What about the Green Deal? “There’s no way back”, Commission reassures

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Climate, Energy & Natural Resources

What will happen to the Green Deal now that – not all, but key European countries have shifted to the far-right following the European elections? It is a fair concern and one that was addressed at a recent Friends of Europe event by Paula Pinho, Director for Just Transition, Consumers, Energy Security, Efficiency and Innovation at the European Commission Directorate-General for Energy (DG ENER): “There’s no way back [on the Green Deal]. The sense of direction is set very clearly. Even more so after what happened in Ukraine. People have woken up for the need to transition.”

Pinho spoke at the event “The post-EU elections roadmap: ensuring social justice and economic stability on the path to net-zero”, which addressed how governments and the EU can help make clean technologies more accessible to all and how the EU can focus on measures that reduce the financial burden on low-income households.

On this last point, Andris Piebalgs, former European Commissioner for Development and Energy, acknowledged “what has been done is a huge step”, and stressed, “policies should also take into consideration the social aspect”. “Achieving net zero by 2050 will require a lot of state intervention so the social aspect needs to be taken into consideration when creating these policies”, said Piebalgs. The former EU official said that, for example, providing a 4,000€ deduction when purchasing a 30,000€ electric vehicle, would not prove as effective to accelerate the transition as developing specific lease programmes for low-income households.

Piebalgs, nonetheless, remains optimistic, “I would say Europe is very well connected, if I see the people from the world of culture, they have partners all across Europe, even beyond. Mayors are connected as well. We should be quite positive about Europe. At the same time, we should mobilise against the views that are against our views, like homophobia. There are issues that you cannot neglect. If you feel it is against your values, you need to protest and speak up.”

Ruth Mourik, researcher and CEO at DuneWorks, a research organisation dedicated to sustainable transitions, acknowledged that transition is, by definition, “complex and uncertain”, but highlighted the need for “dissident voices” in the debate about the green transition. “Diversity in all its forms is key to accelerating a just transition. Yes, it’s going to slow down the process, but if you don’t involve different voices you’ll face resistance later on.”


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