The need to forge a truly global Green Deal to massively reduce our global carbon footprint, enable an equitable distribution of clean technologies, and ensure a just transition to a zero carbon future was the focus of discussions yesterday as climate leaders and experts from around the world joined the virtual live event Investing in Climate Action: the Make-or-Break Decade.

Ursula von der Leyen, Werner Hoyer (read the speech), John Kerry, Christine Lagarde, Frans Timmermans, Valdis Dombrovskis, Kristalina Georgieva, Achim Steiner, Amina Mohammed, Michael Bloomberg, Ambroise Fayolle, Teresa Czwerwinska (read the speech), Laurence Tubbiana and Liz Wathuti, were among the speakers.

Watch the highlights

Europe at the forefront of climate action

Organised by the European Commission and the European Investment Bank in cooperation with Project Syndicate, the event put EU climate leadership in the spotlight. It brought together international climate leaders and policy experts on how global climate action, climate policy, international cooperation, and financial innovation can be accelerated and enhanced for an adequate response to the climate emergency.

Opening the conference with EIB President Werner Hoyer, EC President Ursula von der Leyen said, “Climate action is not only a necessity, it is also the greatest opportunity of our lifetime. We are on the edge of a transformation.”

She added that she was proud of how the EIB is redefining the role of a Multilateral Development Bank in becoming the EU climate bank, and “showing the way ahead for the critical decade”

President Hoyer introduced a key theme of the conference saying, “This is not a task for Europe alone. Europe accounts for less than 10% of global emissions. Climate change is more than a European issue.”

This was a message echoed by many of the speakers that, despite ambitious European leadership on climate action, global collaboration is key.

EIB: Setting a standard that others can strive to meet

Joining the event live from Washington DC, John Kerry, the United States Special Presidential Envoy for Climate,addressed EU climate leaders saying:  “We will count on you in these next weeks and months as we build momentum towards Glasgow, which I think, without exaggeration, just because of the science, and the timing, and the goals and the size of them and where we are today…  is almost certainly the last best hope we have to pull ourselves back from the brink. And I look forward to working with all of you to do just that”.

Mr Kerry underlined the role of the EIB, as the EU’s Climate Bank: “I would commend you for the commitment of raising your climate ambition and your pioneering work on green bond development, your leadership in phasing out the financing of fossil fuels. All of these things matter, because they represent the kind of behaviour that we need from institutions all across the planet. You have set a standard that banks everywhere can strive to meet. The EIB obviously is going to be part of the financial backbone of the European Green Deal and that is going to channel a trillion euros at least to climate efforts across Europe. I thank you profoundly for being leaders in this sector”.

The acknowledgement of the key role the European Union is playing  to help achieve the Paris Agreement goals was also signalled by United Nations Special Envoy for Climate Action and Solutions, Michael Bloomberg: “Let me thank President von der Leyen, President Hoyer, executive VP Dombrovskis and executive VP Timmermans for Europe’s strong leadership in the race to zero emissions, adding “When the EIB announced it would stop financing fossil fuels, it raised the bar, including for Washington.”

Frans Timmermans, European Commission Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal  stressed the importance of an inclusive approach – particularly involving young people, telling the event that the Green Deal would never have happened without the teenager-led Fridays for Future movement : “The world needs to set itself on a sustainable course. Humanity needs to learn to live within planetary boundaries. In the next couple of years we have this incredible opportunity to invest well into a sustainable society and sustainable economy for the future. We are doing this for our kids and grandkids. This is what is very stimulating about climate policy – we are doing this for future generations, so they should be a part of this.”

Climate action: the greatest opportunity of our lifetime

There was consensus among the speakers that the enormous challenge of climate change also presents a massive opportunity to reform and shape societies and economies of the future. This includes implementing policies that support societies as they embrace climate action, making sure a Just Transition leaves no one behind, and supporting environmental sustainability to protect and restore nature and biodiversity. All speakers agreed: we must seize the opportunity now, because there will not be a second chance.

The road to COP 26 in Glasgow

The COP26 meeting in Glasgow will be essential for the world to plot a realistic path towards climate neutrality. All speakers, from Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Patricia Espinosa, to UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner and IMF Head Kristalina Georgieva urged each individual, company and institution to help create the right conditions for success.

Amina Mohammed, the UN’s Deputy Secretary-General, told the online audience in her keynote speech that she looked forward to more progress from the world’s financial institutions in aligning their activities with the Paris Agreement, signed at COP21 more than five years ago. She said,“The European Investment Bank has set a gold standard in aligning its portfolio and policies with the Paris Agreement. We look forward to other multinational development banks and development finance institutions following suit. I would like to recognise these efforts and encourage you all to assist others to follow suit, mindful of their specific circumstances and support needs.”

The EIB recently adopted a Climate Bank Roadmap that lays out plans to support €1 trillion of climate action and environmental sustainability investments by 2030, and to raise annual investment in climate action and environmental sustainability to at least 50% of EIB activities k by 2025. In addition, all new EIB Group operations are now aligned with the Paris Climate Agreement.

In addition, the EIB has decided to stop financing traditional fossil fuel energy projects and focus on renewable energy, energy efficiency, alternative fuels and the infrastructure that helps these technologies grow.

Selection of speakers' videos

Amina Mohammed, United Nations Deputy Secretary-General

Michael Bloomberg, United Nations Special Envoy for Climate Action and Solutions

John Kerry, United States Special Presidential Envoy for Climate

Frans Timmermans, European Commission Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal

Watch the full event