Opinion

Europe’s Green Deal must reach beyond its borders

A European Climate and Sustainable Development Bank could become the external investment arm of the European Green Deal.

By: and Date: February 4, 2020 Topic: Energy & Climate

Ursula von der Leyen has made climate change a top priority for the European Commission, proposing a European Green Deal that would make Europe climate neutral by 2050.

This is good for Europe and for the world.

It is good for Europe because deep decarbonisation represents a historic occasion to revitalise Europe’s economy and provide purpose and meaning to the common project.

It is good for the world because it shows that pursuing climate neutrality by 2050 is not only technically and economically possible, but also politically rewarding. This is of paramount importance, as early deployment of low carbon technologies is key to making them globally competitive with high carbon technologies.

Even so, a European Green Deal focused only on Europe itself would not do much to mitigate climate change, as the continent produces less than 10 per cent of global greenhouse-gas emissions. The only way for Europe to exercise global leadership on decarbonisation is to move beyond its own borders. The European Green Deal should go global. To make that possible there is a pressing need to consolidate and streamline the EU’s development finance and climate activities outside Europe, which are today divided between the European Commission, the European Investment Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and individual European member states.

Take the example of Africa. The EU and its member states have created a myriad of initiatives to promote electrification and decarbonisation on the African continent. But this fragmentation limits Europe’s leverage regarding credible energy sector reforms and, therefore, does little to promote the much-needed private investment in African countries. In the labyrinth of initiatives, understanding who is doing what is challenging even from an EU perspective, let alone from an African one, especially when China offers to finance coal plants in a far more coherent way.

Europe’s fragmented system creates overlaps, inefficiencies and greater transaction costs. European taxpayers’ money would be far better spent if channelled through a single facility, aimed at co-ordinating the initiatives of European institutions and member states.

The EU should combine the current instruments into a single sustainable development finance entity, such as a European Climate and Sustainable Development Bank — as proposed last year by the High-Level Group of Wise Persons on the European Financial Architecture for Development.

A European Climate and Sustainable Development Bank could become the external investment arm of the European Green Deal, pushing it beyond the continent’s borders. Such an approach would represent a triple win for the EU.

First, it would help to meet Europe’s climate-finance obligations and unlock the conditional emission-reduction commitments provided by most developing countries under the Paris Agreement. Second, it would enable European industry — which is competitive in many low carbon technologies — to find new markets. And third, it would help economic development in partner countries, providing an invaluable foreign policy dividend for Europe.


Republishing and referencing

Bruegel considers itself a public good and takes no institutional standpoint.

Due to copyright agreements we ask that you kindly email request to republish opinions that have appeared in print to [email protected].

Read article More on this topic More by this author
 

Blog Post

Redefining European Union green bonds: from greening projects to greening policies

European Union green bonds, as promised by European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen, might be better linked to the bloc's achievement of its climate goals, rather than project-by-project green criteria.

By: Georg Zachmann Topic: Energy & Climate Date: September 21, 2020
Read article More by this author
 

Blog Post

Unpacking President von der Leyen’s new climate plan

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has set a new destination for EU climate policy: a 55% emissions reduction by 2030. This is a good and necessary step on the way to climate neutrality by 2050, but getting there will not be easy, and Europe should prepare for a bumpy road ahead.

By: Simone Tagliapietra Topic: Energy & Climate, European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: September 16, 2020
Read about event
 

Past Event

Past Event

The Sound of Economics Live: The State of the Union going forward

In the first Sound of Economics Live episode after summer we look at the State of the Union address delivered by Ursula von der Leyen.

Speakers: Giuseppe Porcaro, André Sapir, Guntram B. Wolff and Alicia García-Herrero Topic: Energy & Climate, European Macroeconomics & Governance, Innovation & Competition Policy Location: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels Date: September 16, 2020
Read about event
 

Past Event

Past Event

Bruegel Annual Meetings 2020 - Day 1

The Annual Meetings are Bruegel's flagship event which gathers high-level speakers to discuss the economic topics that affect Europe and the world.

Topic: Energy & Climate, European Macroeconomics & Governance, Finance & Financial Regulation, Global Economics & Governance, Innovation & Competition Policy Location: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels Date: September 1, 2020
Read article
 

Blog Post

Is the EU Council agreement aligned with the Green Deal ambitions?

On 21 July, EU leaders agreed on a €1.8 trillion package that should boost the recovery after the COVID-19 crisis, but also contribute to the advancement of key EU societal objectives, starting with the climate transition. In this blog post we assess the green ambitions of the package and evaluate its consistency with the European Green Deal.

By: Grégory Claeys and Simone Tagliapietra Topic: Energy & Climate, European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: July 23, 2020
Read about event More on this topic
 

Past Event

Past Event

An EU budget for Europe's future with Johannes Hahn

How do we make the EU fit for future?

Speakers: Zsolt Darvas, Johannes Hahn and Mehreen Khan Topic: European Macroeconomics & Governance Location: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels Date: July 7, 2020
Read article Download PDF
 

External Publication

European Parliament

A Just Transition Fund – How the EU budget can help with the transition

On 14 January 2020, the European Commission published its proposal for a Just Transition Mechanism, intended to provide support to territories facing serious socioeconomic challenges related to the transition towards climate neutrality. This report provides a comprehensive analysis of how the EU can best ensure a ‘just transition’ in all its territories and for all its citizens with the tools at its disposal. It provides an overview and a critical assessment of the Commission's proposal, and suggests possible amendments based on best practices from other just-transition initiatives.

By: Aliénor Cameron, Grégory Claeys, Catarina Midões and Simone Tagliapietra Topic: Energy & Climate, European Macroeconomics & Governance, European Parliament Date: May 26, 2020
Read article More on this topic More by this author
 

Blog Post

A green recovery

Government policy faces various challenges. Before the COVID-19 outbreak, the European Union set ambitious targets to reduce carbon emissions. Now in the midst of the pandemic, the EU has temporarily lifted state-aid rules allowing governments to steer companies through the crisis and to minimise job losses using public money. This column suggests combining these policies by attaching green conditions to state aid. In that way, we can aim for a green recovery.

By: Dirk Schoenmaker Topic: Energy & Climate Date: April 6, 2020
Read article More on this topic More by this author
 

Podcast

Podcast

The European Green Deal rules

When it comes to global carbon emission is a tax the best form of defence? To make the European Green Deal work, the EU is considering a levy on carbon-intensive goods manufactured beyond its borders. But will a carbon border tax spawn a massive bureaucracy and lead to accusations of protectionism? To find out, Nicholas Barrett talked to Georg Zachmann and Ben McWilliams from Bruegel and Gabriel Felbermayr, President of the Kiel Institute for the World Economy.

By: The Sound of Economics Topic: Global Economics & Governance Date: March 9, 2020
Read about event More on this topic
 

Past Event

Past Event

On gains, losses, and trade-offs: the case of Border Carbon Adjustment

How will the border carbon adjustment be implemented and what will be the implications?

Speakers: Gabriel Felbermayr, André Sapir and Georg Zachmann Topic: Energy & Climate Location: Bruegel, Rue de la Charité 33, 1210 Brussels Date: March 5, 2020
Read article Download PDF
 

Policy Contribution

A European carbon border tax: much pain, little gain

The European Commission should not make the implementation of a carbon border adjustment mechanism into a must-have element of its climate policy. There is little in the way of strong empirical evidence that would justify a carbon-adjustment measure. Moreover, significant logistical, legal and political challenges will arise during the design. The EU should instead focus upon the implementation of measures to trigger the development of a competitive low-carbon industry in Europe.

By: Ben McWilliams and Georg Zachmann Topic: Energy & Climate, European Macroeconomics & Governance Date: March 5, 2020
Read article More on this topic More by this author
 

Blog Post

The European Green Deal must cut hidden fossil fuel subsidies

Brussels should ensure that fossil fuels do not get direct or indirect support from governments

By: Simone Tagliapietra Topic: Energy & Climate Date: March 4, 2020
Load more posts