A net-zero emissions future to guide Europe through turbulent economic times

(EurActiv, 27 Jan 2020) Climate action can be the polestar guiding EU leaders through turbulent economic waters, writes Pascal Lamy, calling on politicians to put climate policy at the heart of a coherent industrial strategy.

Pascal Lamy is President emeritus of the Jacques Delors Institute, former EU Trade Commissioner and former Director General of the WTO.

In the turbulent waters of today’s global economy, many Europeans feel adrift. The captains of our ship—our Heads of State and governments and top ministers—have not done enough to stabilise the vessel and confidently chart a course towards safety. As we weather the storm, lurching from the whitecapped swell of one crisis to the next, there’s a growing fear that Europe doesn’t know how to steer towards safe harbour.

Climate action can be the polestar. A net-zero emissions strategy should be the course we follow out of the chaos and into a stable and prosperous future.

It’s true that Europe has long been a global leader on climate action—playing a crucial role in the adoption of the Paris Agreement, making the strongest emissions reductions pledges in the developed world, and promising billions to lesser developed nations to help them both combat and prepare for future climate chaos.

However, European leaders have largely failed to effectively link these political climate ambitions to a coherent industrial strategy.

It’s high time that we make that connection. For Europe to survive—and indeed, thrive—in a carbon-constrained future, we must formally commit to reaching net zero emissions by 2050 at the latest, and adopt a long-term strategy, and legal framework to guide us towards this goal. Our economic competitiveness for the next century depends on such an integrated, EU-wide strategy that will unleash Europe’s industrial potential in combating the climate threat.

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EurActiv, 27 Jan 2020: A net-zero emissions future to guide Europe through turbulent economic times