Industry and EU Parliament Back Green Recovery

06.05.2020 -

The European Parliament (EP) and the chemical industry seem to be on (almost) the same page as regards strategies to overcome the ongoing coronavirus crisis, though with a slightly different focus.

In advance of the European Commission’s May 6 presentation of its recovery plan, MEPs stressed that the Green Deal must be at the center of any reconstruction package. Germany’s chemical producers also came out in support of expanding the Green Deal into a “sustainable growth program” but in their view the emphasis should be not just on ecological, but also social and economic aspects.

A resolution adopted by the EP on Apr. 17 April calls for a “massive recovery and reconstruction package” with the Green Deal, as well as a series of initiatives to make Europe's economy sustainable at its core to stimulate the economy and fight climate change.

During the strict quarantine across Europe in reaction to the pandemic, MEPs note that air pollution has declined, due to reduced traffic and other production cutbacks, with major European cities registering substantial decreases in nitrogen dioxide (NO2 and CO2 emissions. In parallel, the price for allowances in the EU Emission Trading System fell by 40% between mid-February and mid-March 2020.

For the Green Deal to release growth impulses, however, the EU needs a strategy that also considers social and economic factors considered together, said Christian Kullmann, president of the German industry association Verband der Chemischen Industry (VCI)

Only an economically and socially strong Europe can set important accents in climate protection, Kullmann, who is also CEO of Evonik, asserted. With a nod to southern Europe, he added that “people should be able to experience an EU that stands shoulder to shoulder in a time of crisis.”

With Europe tightly in the virus pandemic’s grip, it looked at times as if the Green Deal might be shoved aside in favor of purely economic recovery measures. In late April, however, Commission’s executive vice president, Frans Timmermans, said the timetable for the EU Climate Law remains unchanged, and a revised reduction target proposal for 2030 will be presented in September.