Ciolos: Europe’s Green Deal is an opportunity for renewal and reinvention

DISCLAIMER: All opinions in this column reflect the views of the author(s), not of EURACTIV.COM Ltd.

Dacian Cioloș: "The scale of the transition required will also present challenges." [EPA/ROBERT GHEMENT]

The Green Deal communication by the European Commission is a priority initiative which must mark the opening chapter for a transformational project. The aim of this project is to deliver prosperity and a brighter, cleaner future for our continent, writes Dacian Cioloș.

Dacian Cioloșis the president of Renew Europe, the third-largest political group in the European Parliament.

The concept bears the hallmarks of Renew Europe. We took the lead in the recent achievement declaration of a Climate Emergency in Europe, the first continent to do so. The Green Deal must now deliver on the ambition we seek and reflect our achievements in shaping it.

The transition to climate neutrality will bring significant opportunities, such as the potential for economic growth, new business models, new forms of working and technological development. Here, technologically advanced research, innovation and development policies will have to play a key role.

The scale of the transition required will also present challenges. That’s why the Green Deal has to be a solution-oriented deal that supports traditional carbon-intensive industries and regions that will need to reinvent themselves, at the same time as it provides incentives for frontrunners and breakthrough technologies.

It will also need to bring on board our farmers and foresters who will at the same time have to support our climate and biodiversity goals while adapting to a changing climate. And it will have to involve transport companies and local authorities who will have to invest in decarbonised transport systems.

Finally, this Green Deal will be a project for all of us having the duty to integrate new reflexes and habits into our daily life.

To trigger change, first, we need to deliver a Climate law not only with the goal of climate neutrality by 2050 but also with a clear 55% target in the reduction of CO2 emissions by 2030. This has to come together with a roadmap to increase Europe’s competitiveness.

Second, political leadership in climate comes with a responsibility for all EU institutions; the responsibility to build a pan-European dynamic that works for the people. The Green Deal is not a theoretical concept.

It will have to be implemented on the ground, transform our economy and create new jobs. It will have to involve citizens, workers, entrepreneurs, researcher and farmers to shape a new relationship between growth, environment and carbon emissions.

The European Commission must not only set targets, but also draw a clear political pathway to implement those targets, and secure the financial capacity to support economic, social and environmental transitions with concrete and new financial resources.

An architecture for the future will only deliver if constructed on firm foundations and the provision of adequate incentives, instruments, and investments to ensure a just transition, capable of taking all of the regions and peoples of Europe with it.

Third, a two-fold approach to Green Digitalisation and technology is fundamental and will be at the core of our approach in the coming years. This should be done with greening of the digital sector and by harnessing IT and new technologies to further deploy green practices and technologies.

Digital technologies are uniquely positioned to provide effective tools for climate change mitigation and adaptation; they must be embraced.

Fourth, we can not oppose traditional policies and new priorities, but we need to modernise our traditional tools to deliver on our new priorities. Both cohesion programmes and CAP can deliver on our new political ambitions.

I count on the European Commission to proactively suggest the best way to integrate the Green Deal ambition within the policy reforms that are already on the table.

If we get it right, the successful transition towards green and sustainable growth will help mitigate the social impact of climate and environmental reforms through the creation of new jobs and opportunities for EU workers. It is imperative the transition imposes no punitive costs on any specific individuals or regions.

The launch of the Green New Deal is the beginning of a generational project, which will allow Europe to turn the corner on the global climate crisis, while redefining the way our economy and society consumes finite resources.

We have to take our responsibility, where others doubt the ecological imperative and to become the driving force of this project. The ascent ahead of us is a daunting one, but with determination, teamwork and the right equipment, our journey can also be an opportunity for renewal and reinvention.

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