Statement by Executive Vice-President Timmermans on delivering the European Green Deal

Source: European Commission (EC) i, published on Thursday, July 15 2021, 8:00.

Opening press conference

Thank you very much President,

And let me start by thanking you, all my colleagues who are present and the ones who are not, and especially the Commission's staff for an incredible effort over the last couple of months.

This is really epic, what our colleagues were able to offer us in terms of quality in terms of depth, in terms of analysis.

So I believe we now have a package that can take us to our goal, which is now a legal obligation of reducing our emissions with the least 55% by 2030, which will set us on a path of climate neutrality by 2050.

As the President said, there is no time to waste. People are dying in Northwest Canada, because it's 50 degrees Celsius there. Northwest Canada. Siberia reaches temperatures over 35 degrees. In Central Europe it is over 40 degrees. We saw tornadoes in the Czech Republic, who would ever thought of that.

So anyone who wants to deny the urgency of the climate crisis should look again. And we certainly don't have the luxury of denying it. And as the President said, sometimes we will say ‘take it easy, not that much. It's difficult. It's hard.' Yes, it is difficult. Yes, it is hard. But it's also an obligation. Because if we would renounce our obligation to help humanity live within planetary boundaries, we would fail. Not just ourselves, but we would fail our children and our grandchildren who, in my view, if we don't fix this, will be fighting wars over water and food. That is, in my view, the background of our efforts.

But these efforts are very concrete, they have to do two things at the same time. Put a price on carbon and put a premium on decarbonizing. That is in fact what we're doing, we're putting a price on carbon so that people have the incentive to use less carbon. And we put a premium on decarbonizing so that we stimulate innovation, adaptation. We stimulate the bringing to the market of new technologies et cetera. That will take us to where we need to be.

There is the famous quote in Hamlet, ‘the time is out of joint, o cursed spite! That ever I was born to set it right.' That's it. Time is out of joint. Because humanity no longer lives within planetary boundaries.

We were born to contribute to set it right. That is to help humanity learn to live within planetary boundaries. If we get to minus 55% in 2030 and climate neutrality in 2050, humanity has a fighting chance. Because the rest of the world is watching us, is following us, and is really looking towards us for the best examples to get us there.

Thank you, President

Press conference together with Commissioner Simson

Thank you very much Tim,

Commissioner Simson and I will now present to you the changes proposed for our climate and energy legislation. I will be back with you tomorrow for other parts of the package.

For climate and energy, we have in total seven proposals. Many of them strengthen and reform our existing framework.

It's the framework that would have brought us to over 40% in 2030. But we have to move to at least 55%.

Therefore, we are proposing higher targets for renewable energy and energy efficiency, Kadri will tell you more about that, for improving the quality and quantity of our natural carbon sinks, and for Member States emissions reductions through the effort sharing regulation.

By basing the targets for national emissions on GDP per capita, we'll take different starting points into account, and still make sure everyone carries their fair share.

In addition to these targets, and the tools that support them, we are also reforming the EU emissions trading system.

In many ways, the ETS is front and center to all our efforts.

With its cap on emissions, it is a proven and effective tool to bring down emissions. It gives a price signal to industry to switch to cleaner production, it drives innovation, and it generates revenues for redistribution and reinvestment.

The current ETS will be made to fit our higher ambition: the cap on emissions must go down faster and we will take out more free allowances from the system.

We are also proposing to expand emissions trading to sectors where more efforts are needed, objectively needed. The existing ETS will include maritime emissions, for all intra-EU shipping and for 50% of voyages going out of the EU. We will start to remove free allowances in aviation to create a stronger carbon price signal.

We also plan, as most as you have heard by now, a separate system for emissions trading in road transport and buildings. Emissions in these sectors have not decreased. In transport, they have even risen. Our Co2 standards for cars and vans work well: they bring cleaner and more zero emission cars to the market. But they only apply to new cars and will not enable us to make the change fast enough. Because even after the moment combustion engine cars will not be produced anymore, there will still be a long period of legacy obviously.

Politically, the choice we make today about road transport and buildings is a difficult one and you've seen that already in the many comments outside. But in terms of policy, not in terms of politics, but in terms of policy, it's very simple.

Because more of the same will not do it. Our current tools don't deliver enough.

To reach at least 55% reduction in 2030, we need real incentives for change. We also need to generate the revenues to seriously invest in that change.

This, in a nutshell, is why we propose applying emissions trading to transport and heating fuels.

Fuel suppliers - so not individual drivers, homeowners or tenants, but fuel suppliers - will have to buy allowances to put fuel on the market. The cleaner their fuels, the less they pay.

25% of the revenues from this system will go into a Social Climate Fund. The fund can compensate vulnerable groups for higher costs of heating and transport fuels, and help invest in cleaner solutions. Once the new ETS is in operation, we expect that 72 billion euros will be available in this fund.

The fund is open to all Member States. It can provide temporary direct income support, help citizens finance zero-emission heating or cooling systems, or purchase a cleaner car.

The Social Climate Fund embodies our commitment to a just transition. We need to turn the page on fossil fuels, but we need also to help those who face the toughest challenge doing so.

In this race to zero, we need everyone to make it to the finish line. The long-term benefits of climate action are clear: more space for nature, cleaner air, cooler and greener towns, healthier lives, and new economic opportunities. Just imagine where we will be if this succeeds, our lives will be so much better.

A home that generates is own energy, no longer has an energy bill to pay. That is not science fiction, it's happening.

Driving an electric car, already now, costs less than a combustion engine. And according to Bloomberg, even buying an electric car will be cheaper by approximately 2027.

The challenge at the heart of Europe's green transition is how we bring these benefits to all, as quickly and fairly as possible.

The Social Climate Fund helps citizens overcome the initial financial hurdle to that greener future.

Let me end by saying that nothing we have presented today is going to be easy. It's going to be bloody hard, I know that.

But it's also something we need to do, it is our responsibility.

It would be so much easier to just look away and avoid doing hard things. But we can't avoid to do that. We can't abandon our children and grandchildren to a future that would look very bleak if we don't change. And it is going to be worth it. More growth, better jobs, better homes, better natural environments.

We must have the courage to do it. We did that as the Commission today, now it's up to us together with co-legislators, the Council and Parliament, to get it done.

This is a change that encompasses the whole world. We will have to see that in November in Glasgow, that we get others to move in the same direction.

I'm more and more optimistic. Why? Because everyone knows that it's in their own self-interest to move.

We've spoken before about what we see happening in the natural environment. There is not a country on earth that is not worried about what is doing to their future. There is not a country on earth that doesn't want to move into zero emissions.

The only thing is, not everybody can, not everybody can do it at the same page, but if we set the right example, I know many will follow.

Over to you, Kadri.

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