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As EU Governments Rally behind Green Recovery, Central and Eastern Europe is Still to Show Leadership

Posted on April, 15 2020

European leaders must withstand the temptations of short-term solutions in response to the present crisis that risk locking the EU in a fossil fuel economy for decades to come.
14 April 2020 - WWF Central and Eastern Europe (WWF-CEE) welcomes a letter signed by the environmental ministers of Austria, Denmark, Finland, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Portugal, France, Germany and Greece in which they advocate applying the European Green Deal as a “roadmap to make the right choices in responding to the economic crisis while transforming Europe into a sustainable and climate neutral economy.” WWF-CEE calls on the governments of Hungary, Slovakia, Romania and Bulgaria to join the initiative.
The letter is the latest of a series of recent statements from all corners of politics and industry rallying behind a green economic recovery. Similar calls have been made by energy companies, Members of the European Parliament, the Club of Rome, NGOs, and many more. The European Council has also requested the EU to prepare an economic recovery plan that would integrate the green transition.

By putting the European Green Deal at the heart of our recovery, the signatories demonstrate a great level of responsibility and foresight. This is the leadership Europe needs right now!” said Ester Asin, Director of the WWF European Policy Office. “Europe’s response to the Covid-19 crisis must put us firmly on the path to a truly sustainable, climate-neutral and just economy - for the sake of the environment, but also for building greater resilience of our societies and our economy.”

Several critical elements for recovery measures at the national and EU levels are confirmed in the letter, including a recognition that keeping the momentum of European Green Deal will “deliver on the twin benefits of stimulating economies and creating jobs while accelerating the green transition in a cost efficient way,” and a warning that “we cannot afford setbacks that can have detrimental effects on our climate, biodiversity and environment as well as on human health and our economies.” 

In the letter, ministers also urge European leaders to “withstand the temptations of short-term solutions in response to the present crisis that risk locking the EU in a fossil fuel economy for decades to come,” which in practice would rule out any subsidies or bailouts going to high-carbon economic activities such as coal mining, fossil fuel exploration, airport infrastructure or motorways and highways. This is fully in line with WWF’s own recommendations for a sustainable and just recovery, published last week.

It is crucial that Central and Eastern European Environmental Ministers join the initiative. This region has most to lose from a business as usual approach in terms of natural capital; and most to gain from a green recovery programme that provides stability and green jobs.” said Andreas Beckmann, CEO of WWF Central and Eastern Europe. “The economies of countries such as Romania and Bulgaria will suffer major impacts from the return of thousands of nationals from western European countries where they have worked. It is imperative that we keep up with other European countries in discussing and investing in long-term sustainable initiatives that can show real options for citizens and business tomorrow and for the years to come.”
For more information:
Irene Lucius
Regional Conservation Director,
WWF Central and Eastern Europe
Tel: +43 1 52 45 470 19

“The EU must unite at this difficult time, and send a strong political signal to people, industry and decision-makers around the world that this crisis will not throw us off our chosen path of sustainability.”
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