Green Deal: It's crucial to stay the course after the election

Dear elected representatives,

Dear future heads of government,

The European Green Deal of 2020 marked the beginning of a historic transformation of the European economy as a whole. The EU pledged to achieve climate neutrality by 2050, and to make a clean sweep of fossil fuels in all sectors, from energy production to agriculture, buildings, transport and industry. Another key point of the program is the protection of biodiversity, the environment and our health. Thanks to the Green Deal, European economic policy has become much greener.

Although the current economic climate is putting our economy under pressure, it remains essential to stay the course. The climate and biodiversity crises pose a real threat to our prosperity and well-being. We can - and must - tackle them together. A climate-neutral and sustainable economy offers undeniable economic and societal benefits. It creates jobs and room for knowledge-based manufacturing. This is already clearly visible in the USA and China, where green technologies (or cleantech) are booming and creating enormous opportunities. From a macroeconomic point of view, it's obvious that if the billions of euros currently spent on importing fossil fuels and raw materials were invested in renewable and circular systems today, Europe's trade balance would be healthier. Safe products, free from toxic substances, also have clear benefits for health and biodiversity.

Over the past five years, the European Green Deal has led to a number of regulatory changes in the European Union, and companies have also jumped on the bandwagon. No fewer than 150 Belgian companies (including half of the BEL20) have set Science Based Targets. The Belgian Alliance for Climate Action, which brings together 100 member companies of The Shift sustainable development network, has taken the lead in this project. Similarly, 25 companies have joined forces under the Biodiversity in Action program to implement relevant actions to protect biodiversity. 

These companies act not just out of commercial interest, but also because they are ready to assume their responsibilities. They know that we must produce and consume differently. Because there is no other solution. The survival of our planet, our prosperity, our production capacity and our businesses depends on it. What company doesn't need raw materials like water, minerals or energy? According to an analysis by the European Commission, every euro spent on nature restoration generates between 8 and 38 euros in economic value, thanks to the many benefits nature offers us. Investing in nature restoration is a win-win solution for both our planet and our wallets.

Citizens, businesses and civil society are calling for a policy that makes green options and investments the most obvious and least costly choice. They expect government to remove barriers, guarantee legal certainty and support sustainability. A transition that is fair and leaves no one behind.

Long-term policies take time. So why put them off any longer? According to a study by VITO (the Flemish Institute for Technological Research), inaction would cost the Belgian economy between 5 and 10 billion euros a year. At the same time, however, a calculation by the National Bank of Belgium shows that the macroeconomic costs of the transition to a climate-neutral economy are manageable.

Despite our ambition, we recognize that we can't do it alone. All players in society need to pull in the same direction: companies, political decision-makers and society as a whole.

In the next legislature, Europe's strategic agenda must continue on the road to "net zero emissions" and a positive economy for the nature and for everyone. The industrial pact must also be aligned with these objectives. We need bold, coherent policies that accelerate and facilitate this transition.

List of signatories : 21 Solutions, Ageas, Alteo Group, ArmenTeKort, Ashoka Belgium,, BeeOdiversty, Behaven, Belgian Institute for Sustainable IT, Belgian Investment Company for Developing Countries (BIO), Berghoff, Beterflybox, Binario, Bleen Consulting, BlinkOut, Bond Beter Leefmilieu, Bopro, BOS+, Brasserie Brunehaut, BrightWolves, CAP Conseil, Carmeuse, Chapter Zero Brussels, Climact, Climate Lab, Climate Neutral Group, Close the Gap, Coca-Cola Services, Cofinimmo, Coherence 2, Commensalist bv, Composil Europe, Danone,, D’Ieteren, Ecobos, Ecores, eFarmz, Elements, ETAP Lighting, Eurostar, Factor4, Fairtrade Belgium, Farming4Climate, Give a Day, Goed voor Druk, Go Forest, Hire & Higher, Hoet & Hoet, HRNature, Impact advocaten, Impact Capital, ISS, Join For Water, Joker Toerisme, JUMP, Kalani, Katara, KlimaatContact, Konekt, LeaseLine, Lime, Loterie Nationale – Nationale Loterij, Louvain Coopération, Magelaan, Maison Dandoy, Mantis Consulting, Materia Nova, Mediahuis, Miles Legal, Montea, Movie Tax Invest, Natuurpunt, Oikos, Ontex, Orchestri, P&V Group, Pantarein, Pluxee Belgium, Proximus, PwC Belgium, Ray & Jules, Realco, Rikolto België, RMB, Schneider Electric, Schréder, SC Packaging, Shayp, shiftN, Skipr, Skyfarms, Sodexo Belgium, Soil Capital, Sollie apothekers, SOS Kinderdorpen/SOS Villages d’Enfants, Spadel, Stichting tegen Kanker/Fondation contre le Cancer, Surveco, Sustainability Partner, Sustenuto, Sylvester Events, Tabor, Taiepa, Tapio, Tauw België, Telenet Group, The Cornerstone, The Cotton Group, The Ecological Entrepreneur, The Nest Family Office, The Rock Group, Time4Society, Too Good To Go, Toyota Material Handling Europe, Trias, Triodos Bank, Tweeperenboom, UCB, UC Leuven-Limburg, Universiteit Gent, Upgrade Estate, UPOP, Velux, Veolia, VIA Don Bosco, ViaVia Tourism Adacemy, Vlerick Business School, VO-Group, VP Capital, WeForest, WeNow, Winch Projects, WWF-Belgium, X4Resilience.

Written by @The Shift asbl, published in Le Soir on 17 June 2024
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