2020: A test year for Europe’s much-vaunted Green Deal

(EurActiv, 2 Jan 2020) Ursula von der Leyen, the new president of the European Commission, surprised even environmentalists when she announced she would make climate policy the “hallmark” of her five-year mandate. Now comes the hard part: the delivery.

Von der Leyen did not spare superlatives when she announced her flagship environmental policy programme last month.

“This is Europe’s man on the moon moment,” the German Christian-Democrat said as she unveiled her much-anticipated European Green Deal on 11 December.

Climate change “is an existential issue for Europe – and for the world,” said the 61-year old former German defence minister after winning a confirmation vote in the European Parliament in November.

“We are in a climate emergency,” added Frans Timmermans, a former Dutch foreign minister who is now von der Leyen’s second-in-command, in charge of steering the Green Deal.

Responding to critics who said the Commission was going too far too fast with plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions, he said Europe had no choice.

Climate change is “like a comet” threatening to hit the earth in 30 years’ time, Timmermans told an assembly of local representatives in December. “It’s not just nice to do, we need to do it,” he stressed.

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EurActiv, 2 Jan 2020: 2020: A test year for Europe’s much-vaunted Green Deal