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Corporate Leaders Groups

Business leadership for a climate neutral economy


11 May 2022 - As the Russian invasion of Ukraine is about to enter its twelfth week, more than 150 businesses including Microsoft, Unilever, H&M, Signify and Iberdrola, urge the EU to strengthen Europe’s energy security and resilience by accelerating the green transition.

Read the letter.

Read the Annex of the letter with business solutions.

Read business quotes on the letter.

In an open letter to Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, ahead of the publication of its REPowerEU energy plan, CEOs from across Europe and the economy, have outlined their support for the EU's aim to phase out dependence on Russian gas, oil and coal as a significant step towards stabilising the present energy security and price crises.

Leaders from sectors including manufacturing, heavy industry, finance, consumer goods, retail, power generation and technology are urging the EU to see the present crises as further reason to act in alignment with the Paris Agreement and to accelerate a clean domestic energy strategy as part of the green transition. CEOs also acknowledge the need to overhaul their own business models to ensure a 1.5C joint trajectory and for deep private sector investment in order to support delivery of the European Green Deal.

Signed by 126 businesses, including multinationals and SMEs, and 27 business networks, in the run up to this month’s REPowerEU Plan publication, and meetings of the G7 energy ministers and European Council, the letter states: "At the core of the current energy security and price crises sits an overdependence on volatile, imported fossil gas, oil and coal. It is time for all of us to take necessary steps to strengthen Europe’s energy security and resilience by accelerating the green transition. [...]

"Measures taken in response to the invasion of Ukraine must prioritise structural and just solutions that can deliver on the green and digital transition and respond to the level of emergency that we face. [...]

"This is the time to be bold and double down on delivering the Green Deal and achieve ‘rapid, deep and immediate’ cuts to carbon emissions as demanded by the IPCC. Our collective experience shows that we can mobilise together to unlock acceleration, and as we pick up the pace of transition, further transformation will become easier and cheaper."

In March the EU announced REPowerEU, its plan for secure, sustainable and affordable energy which is set to shape the EU’s short- and long-term energy policies and also play a key role in the Fit for 55 Package - the package of legislation that will deliver an at least 55% cut in EU greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. The letter reiterates business support for an ambitious and effective Fit for 55 package of legislation that can catalyse the transition from fossil fuels and increase the competitiveness of European industry. It specifically calls for increased ambition and action on the Renewable Energy, Energy Efficiency and Energy Performance of Building Directives and highlights that a strengthened EU Emissions Trading Scheme to deliver on the EU’s targets remains critical.

Eric Rondolat, CEO, Signify said: “Reducing energy consumption by scaling up energy efficiency in buildings and cities should be at the heart of the EU’s strategy to reduce both energy dependency from Russia and achieve its climate objectives and, as such, be one of the cornerstones of the upcoming RePowerEU Plan. As a leader in the development of efficient lighting solutions and user of renewable energy, Signify stands ready to play its part in the achievement of these objectives and the implementation of a plan that will not only help to deal with the immediate effects of this crisis but also put the EU on track to achieve climate neutrality in the long run.”

Brad Smith, President and Vice Chair, Microsoft said: "Climate change poses a unique challenge for Europe and the world. How do we accelerate the planet’s transition to a net zero future while meeting the growing energy needs of expanding economies? Microsoft is laser focused on putting our technology to work to do just that with our own operations, the business community, and societies across the planet."

Ignacio S. Galán, Chairman & CEO, Iberdrola said: “The current context demonstrates the need to accelerate the energy transition to guarantee a sustainable, robust and fair economy. The structural solution is clear: accelerating the implementation of “Fit for 55” while firmly supporting renewable energy, efficient storage and smart networks to avoid future shocks, promote a self-sufficient energy system and reduce emissions. We have the technologies, a massive social consensus, and, as companies, we are ready to do our part and accompany our leaders in defining clear, stable, and coherent frameworks, based on European coordinated solutions, without exceptions, to accelerate the process.”

Eliot Whittington, Director, CLG Europe said: "Fossil fuels are on the way out and short-term pragmatism should not lock us in to outdated approaches that harm our economy and the planet. This letter demonstrates the broad and deep understanding in the EU business community that the best response to the Ukraine crisis lies in doubling down on the European Green Deal and accelerating energy efficiency and the transition towards clean energy. The EU should not miss the opportunity of the REPowerEU Plan to keep a 1.5°C compatible future in reach."

Maria Mendiluce, CEO, We Mean Business Coalition said: "The EU has the chance to, once again, show climate leadership in the face of adversity with an ambitious REPowerEU plan that accelerates the just clean energy transition, reduces dependency on Russian fossil fuels and addresses soaring energy prices. Companies with operations in Europe are already innovating to support the clean energy transition, but the right government policies and investments that scale renewables, energy efficiency and electrification will help the private sector go even faster. We must take every measure to rapidly phase out fossil fuels to stabilize the climate and secure a livable future for all."

As European leaders hammer out the details of the RePowerEU strategy, the letter signatories are urging European leaders to:

  • Accelerate measures to reduce energy consumption through energy efficiency improvements.
  • Accelerate the move away from fossil fuels and towards renewable and fossil free powered electrification across industry, transport, heating and cooling and buildings.
  • Ensure an inclusive and fair transition process, with clear attention to the growing pressures on cost of living, and access to decent work.
  • Provide the right financial incentives and instruments to accelerate investments by investors, companies and households at sufficient strength.
  • Fully and effectively mobilise existing EU funds and structures.
  • Urgently increase and accelerate the provision of new training schemes built on the needs identified by employees and employers.

The letter was coordinated by the European Corporate Leaders Group (CLG Europe), a cross-sectoral group of European businesses working towards delivering climate neutrality. 

For enquiries, please contact:

Pascale Palmer

Pascale Palmer, Senior Media Advisor

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