Madame President, Honourable Members,
First of all, I have to apologize for being late, it is because of the College, it finished now and I immediately came here.
I am really happy to discuss with you today which is I think a landmark for the European Green Deal: the Climate Law to turn Europe’s political climate ambitions into binding legislation.
Moving towards a climate-neutral future is the right thing to do for our children and future generations - especially now. Everything we are doing is science-based, so actually, those who deny the science are being ideological. Not the ones who embrace science.
If we invest hundreds of billions of euros in rescuing our economy from this pandemic, we must not throw money at the old economy. We must guide our societies to a cleaner and healthier future - one that our children can embrace with hope, not fear.
We must be very clear and very honest about this. This transition will affect our daily lives, from the cars we drive to the houses we live in, from the jobs we will have in the future.
I’m confident that we can make it, if we do two things. If we set ourselves a sound direction. And stand together as a continent in mastering the challenge.
The Climate Law will set the direction by making our 2050 climate neutrality goal binding. That provides certainty at a time where so much is uncertain.
I want to stress three points.
This is a Union-wide commitment to climate neutrality, with a just transition for all.
The target is also economy-wide. All sectors must contribute - no exceptions granted.
And it’s a domestic objective - delivered in Europe to inspire the world to follow our lead. And we see across the world other nations following the lead already.
For 2030, we need to increase our ambition if we want a realistic pathway to climate neutrality.
Our proposal to increase the 2030 target to at least 55% emission reductions compared to 1990 was not conjured from thin air. We did a thorough impact assessment, as I had promised to this house. I have to say, I am really impressed by the work the Commission services have done on this.
I know that this proposal goes too far for some, and for others not far enough. But the target is ambitious: we propose to reduce our emissions over the next decade by as much as we have achieved over the past quarter century.
The target is well-founded in science. It shows responsibility towards developing countries but doesn’t take on an undue burden given the ambition needed from other industrial nations. I think it’s the right target.
Just as important as the goal, is the realisation that we’re in this together.
The transition is just – has to be just or there will just be no transition.
We must help households and regions that are at risk of being left behind. We will soon propose a Renovation Wave to lower energy bills and fight energy poverty. We will continue developing our Just Transition Mechanism to deliver a new future to regions where the path towards climate neutrality is particularly steep.
This is our message to the miners in Asturias, the workers on Baltic peatlands and many others: we will stand with you to make the journey to climate neutrality with us.
Let me address the role of forests and other landscapes that remove CO2 from our atmosphere.
The point of climate neutrality in 2050 is that by that year, we must balance CO2 emissions with removals. Taking out what we put in, if you prefer a cruder expression.
The sink in our forests is declining, shrinking. Rather than waiting for 2050, we want to recognise the role of natural carbon sinks now.
Including the full sink in our climate target, in line with our international obligations, will drive us to take better care of our forests and sinks so that they can play this vital role and also give an opportunity to rural communities.
This is no accounting trick or cheat code – it’s the reality of how we neutralise the negative impact of human activity on our planet and care for our natural habitat.
You’ve discussed for many months how to fix the pathway between 2030 and 2050, including an intermediate target for 2040. There is criticism on our proposal to use delegated acts to check whether we’re on track for that pathway.
Let me repeat today, and you know that this is my opinion: what counts is that we reach our goals. I’m open to discuss which instruments should get us there.
Please help me find a solution that we can all support.
Tomorrow you will vote on turning our climate ambitions into binding law.
The Commission will be an honest broker for negotiations between Parliament and Council.
We will push for an ambitious seven-year budget to finance our climate ambitions.
But I want to thank Parliament and Ms Guteland in particular already for the work on this historic piece of legislation, the Climate Law.
Ambitious climate action is what we need in Europe today and the world.
Let’s set our pathway towards climate neutrality as quickly as possible - and start walking along this path together as quickly as possible.