Europe has a “first-mover advantage” in the pursuit of a carbon-neutral future thanks to the European Commission’s new Green Deal, Ursula von der Leyen told global political and corporate leaders at Davos on Wednesday.
In a veiled response to U.S. President Donald Trump’s dismissal of teenage climate protesters like Greta Thunberg at the World Economic Forum a day earlier as “prophets of doom,” the Commission president said: “Most of us — not all of us but most of us, agree we need to act,” citing what she called “overwhelming” evidence and research.
“The window of opportunity is rapidly closing — we have to act now. This is the reason why the European Commission presented as its first priority the European Green Deal — Europe will be the world’s first climate neutral continent by 2050.”
She said the planned 1 trillion euros of investment via the Green Deal over the next decade “will create a green investment wave,” with calls from the private sector to provide a reliable framework and accountability for long-term investments.
“The European Green Deal is our new growth strategy,” she said, describing it as plan that “gives back to the planet more than it takes” and where “Europe has the first mover advantage.”
Von der Leyen said a carbon border tax (or “adjustment mechanism,” as it’s referred to) was one way to protect Europe from unfair competition from third countries with more modest climate goals in the short term, but what she really wanted was “a global level playing field” via CO2 pricing systems of the type being explored by California and now by China too.
“If we achieve global pricing for CO2, if it turns into a global trend, we will have a global level playing field where no carbon border tax is necessary anymore.”