In December 2019, the European Union had declared its commitment that by 2050 there would be no net greenhouse gas emissions from the entire continent, known as the Green Deal. That was before the pandemic halted daily life and shattered economies across the world, which certainly will test Europe´s Green Deal commitment. 

There is no doubt the global pandemic will change the debate on the financing of global climate actions. There are however opportunities in a recovery period to ensure that funds are going to important areas with highest priorities. In such a light it is very concerning that some politicians want to use coronovairus support to bail out coal industry.  

As such it was very important that EU heads of governments pledged on Thursday, April 9th to make their emergency measures compatible with the principles set out in the Green Deal.  EU leaders used this first scheduled gathering after the pandemic to confirm the region remains committed to its environmental clean-up. 

“The urgency is presently on fighting the Coronavirus pandemic and its immediate consequences,” according to a joint statement agreed by the EU leaders meeting via a videoconference. “We should, however, start to prepare the measures necessary to get back to a normal functioning of our societies and economies and to sustainable growth, integrating inter alia the green transition and the digital transformation, and drawing all lessons from the crisis.

Putting Europe back on track to sustainable growth will require “a coordinated exit strategy, a comprehensive recovery plan and unprecedented investment,” the leaders said. They invited the Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel, in consultation with the European Central Bank, to start work on the necessary measures.

“If we come out of this with an economy into pieces, then it will be hard to put climate back on the agenda, for sure,” said Ernest Urtasun, a member of the EU parliament and the vice president of the Greens group. “Most stimulus programs after the 2008 crisis had no environmental focus — we need to avoid that.”

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