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European Union  |  January 24, 2024 14:32:00, updated

Keynote speech by Executive Vice-President Dombrovskis at the EU Sustainable Investment Summit 2024

Speech at SEIP 2024

Ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon.

It is a pleasure to welcome you to the third Sustainable Europe Investment Summit. I would like to thank you for attending today.

This is a great opportunity to assess the progress that the EU has been making on the European Green Deal, with a particular focus on investment.

But today is not all about Europe.

We want to hear about developments in other parts of the world.

As we all know, climate change is a global challenge.

And the green transition is a global imperative.

The green transition is not an abstract concept. It involves taking many measures to make it happen on the ground, around the world.

This is how we will all benefit, wherever we live.

Each measure is tailored and varies according to a country's circumstances.

Today's summit is an important gathering of industry, investors, policymakers and civil society – so that collectively, we take stock of what we are doing right and where we need to act further.

Changing our economies to achieve the green transition presents challenges, but also opportunities.

The social dimension is key.

The green transition must be fair for everyone.

Today's discussions will address:

  • how to shift to a net-zero industrial system
  • how to boost breakthrough green technologies, and
  • how to improve international cooperation.

The issue of global warming has not gone away.

It has only got worse. There is mounting evidence of melting polar ice, rising temperatures, and constant freak weather events.

And that is why we continue to stress the urgent need for sustainable investment so that the world can take the right measures to fight climate change.

Based on the current projections from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the window of opportunity to limit global warming to 1.5 °C is closing rapidly.

So we need to act rapidly.

No more talk. Action is what is needed.

The EU has put the green transition at the core of its policy. We have pledged to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030. And we were the first to set out a legally binding target of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

After Russia launched its full-scale aggression against Ukraine, Europe was quick to restructure its energy system to reduce – then eliminate – its longstanding reliance on Russian fossil fuels.

This move has been a success.

We have strengthened our energy resilience.

We have installed a capacity of renewable energy sources that is higher than ever before.

It sets out a clear vision on our future direction regarding energy:

  • diversifying supplies
  • speeding up use of renewable energy
  • more environmentally friendly production in EU industry.

Our emission reduction targets are ambitious.

But they also come with a hefty price tag: €620 billion annually to meet the objectives of the Green Deal and RepowerEU.

This requires a massive mobilisation of capital. And this is why sustainable finance is so important.

The legal tools and guidelines that we have developed in recent years help to channel private financing to relevant economic activities and support the targets of the European Green Deal.

They are based on three pillars:

  • the taxonomy classification system for sustainable activities
  • the necessary disclosure rules to provide investors with comparable and clear information
  • and tools such as green bond standards and climate benchmarks. These help investors to better align their strategies with the EU's climate and environmental goals.

The EU was the first to lay the legal groundwork to promote sustainable finance, which is increasingly being used by markets.

Companies increasingly use the EU taxonomy system to guide them towards becoming more sustainable.

With its own bond issues, the EU is also boosting the international green bond market. We launched the NextGenerationEU green bond in October 2021. Since then, we have issued nearly €50 billion in highly rated green bonds, for which there is a lot of investor appetite.

On the public side: targeted funding plays an important role, including by de-risking and leveraging private investments.

The Recovery and Resilience Facility, for example, is already helping to put the EU on sustainable growth path.

Other major EU programmes such as InvestEU play a vital role to generate private investments with a positive climate and environmental impact.

European financial institutions – the EIB and EBRDare critical for promoting and carrying out EU policies on the ground, both within the EU and outside.

Ladies and gentlemen

As I said at the start, this is not all about Europe.

So let me turn now to the international dimension, because global cooperation on climate change is crucial.

We need countries and regions to work together.

I recall being in Washington DC in 2019, when the EU and other jurisdictions met to set up the International Platform for Sustainable Finance.

This has proved a very worthwhile forum for cooperation and dialogue to promote sustainable financial practices across the world and coordinate initiatives on the ground.

And we are glad to see that an increasing number of partner countries in different regions are developing sustainable finance frameworks.

Lastly, a few words on international trade, which plays an increasingly important role in the fight against climate change.

Trade is vital for boosting investment in the production and diffusion of goods and services essential for climate action and sustainable economies. It also helps to generate the resources needed to address socio-economic challenges.

We recognised the vital role of trade when we launched the Coalition of Trade Ministers for Climate early last year.

The Coalition aims to promote trade policies that can help address climate change through local and global initiatives.

Sustainability is a key part of our approach. We use trade agreements as a driver of positive change: to speed up cooperation on climate action and environmental challenges such as biodiversity and sustainable food systems.

In the meantime, we have also stepped up enforcement and implementation.

Our priority is to intensify engagement and cooperation with partners to promote compliance with key labour and climate commitments.

Trade policy also matters when it comes to foreign direct investment into developing countries.

This is why we are pursuing Sustainable Investment Facilitation Agreements and actively engaging with interested partners in Africa and the southern neighbourhood.

These agreements aim to improve business climates in developing countries, and incentivise reforms that aim to attract and retain foreign direct investment.

Ladies and gentlemen, to conclude:

We all know that these are very uncertain times, not least due to Russia's continuing war in Ukraine and conflict in the Middle East. It is also an election year in several key countries.

So it's difficult to make predictions.

But one thing is clear. Climate change is happening and there is very little time left to tackle it.

The global community must continue to react; by coordinating measures, initiatives and policies, and working together with industry.

This is also the main objective of this summit, and why have gathered today. So I look forward to today's stimulating discussions and reflections. Thank you.

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