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Speech by President von der Leyen at the Opening of the High-Level Conference 'Investing in climate action: The Make-or-Break Decade', in cooperation with the EIB

Met dank overgenomen van Europese Commissie (EC), gepubliceerd op woensdag 24 maart 2021.

Distinguished guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a pleasure to welcome you to this conference on ‘the Make-or-Break Decade' for climate action. The next ten years must be a turning point. First and foremost, for global CO2 emissions. Today, global emissions are still rising. And this has to change as a matter of urgency.

Europe has decided to cut emissions by at least 55% already in the coming decade. This is to do our part and to show the way. We must act now before it is too late. But there is another factor that can make a difference between ‘make or break'. It is how we think about climate action. Climate action is not only a necessity. It is also the greatest economic opportunity of our time.

We are on the edge of a transformation similar to the digital revolution of 40 years ago. In the 1980s, personal computers, mobile phones and the World Wide Web saw the light, in a matter of a few years. Businesses and customers started asking for new services and products. New markets were created from nothing. We started to desire things that did not even exist before.

A similar transformation is now happening again. Europeans are discovering new needs, from clean mobility to local organic food. Researchers are testing new clean technologies. And investors are seeking green investment opportunities. In a matter of a few years, we will change the way we move, the way we eat, the way we produce. So the question is: Are we ready to catch this opportunity?

I believe we are. Just one example: 55% of the world's new hydrogen projects are in Europe. Clean hydrogen is a textbook means towards our goal of climate neutrality. And Europe is investing in it more than any other global power. European businesses and investors understand the change that is about to happen. And they want to be the drivers of this change. They want to build Europe's leadership in the markets of tomorrow. That is the central goal of the European Green Deal, together with fighting climate change.

The European Green Deal is our roadmap towards climate neutrality. But it is also, and crucially, our new growth strategy. A strategy to make Europe more competitive on tomorrow's green markets. Thus, we are supporting the European Green Deal goals with an unprecedented wave of public investment. Over EUR 280 billion from our Recovery Plan, NextGenerationEU, will finance climate action.

And then, we have the new European budget, the new projects of European interest, and the impressive support from the European Investment Bank. Let me spend just a few words to say how glad I am for this joint event with the EIB. The EIB is redefining the role of a multilateral development bank - becoming Europe's Climate Bank. You are showing the way forward for the critical decade, and I am proud of that.

So public investment is coming. There are now three crucial tasks that we will have to tackle in the immediate future. First, we must ensure the quality of our investment. We should try and maximise the impact of every euro we spend, in terms of environmental impact, but also of job creation and innovation.

Second, we must work to mobilise as much private investment as possible. We need an ‘investment revolution' that goes well beyond the public sector to catch the green opportunities of the 2020s. And third, we must look beyond Europe's borders, too. We must explore new forms of global cooperation on green finance, towards a climate-friendly economy. Europe will be the first climate neutral continent, but we do not want it to be the only one.

I want this decade to be the Roaring Twenties of climate action and climate investment. Europe must lead this change. It is our last chance to stop climate change. And it is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to become global leaders in the economy of the future.

Thank you!


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