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Corporate Leaders Groups

Business leadership for a climate neutral economy

The 2019 GGP Summit ‘Achieving a prosperous and climate neutral future: From vision to reality’, brought together high-level representatives from EU Member States, including Ministers and State Secretaries, the EU institutions, business and civil society to discuss the drivers and conditions for the transition towards a climate neutral economy by 2050.

Three panel sessions addressed the growing momentum behind, and benefits associated with, this systemic transformation; how to move towards a competitive, climate neutral industrial model in the EU; and the investments required to achieve this transition.

"The EIB, as the EU Climate Bank, is central to the EU's vision of carbon neutrality. The Green Growth Summit is an important opportunity for us to connect with government, civil society and businesses to discuss how to accelerate the transition into a climate neutral economy."

Emma Navarro, Vice-President of EIB

The first panel on ‘Laying the foundations of a climate neutral and prosperous European economy’ reflected on the growing momentum behind this systemic transformation, including through the development of an integrated approach bringing together various sectors (including energy, mobility and buildings). Speakers demonstrated that the transition towards a net zero emissions economy can bring about benefits for Europe’s economy and society as a whole if some challenges are met.

The second panel on ‘Transforming Europe’s heavy industry’ explored the future industrial model for Europe in the context of a climate neutral European economy. Speakers discussed how to decarbonise the industrial sector and how pursuing the objective of net zero emissions by 2050 can increase Europe’s competitiveness.

"Climate change is an urgent challenge requiring prompt and proactive response. The Green Growth Summit is a perfect place for setting up the scene and bringing knowledge and decisive actors together. Policymakers, industry and civil society, backed by evidence, academia and science, shall work together in reaching modern, competitive and climate neutral EU economy by 2050 or earlier."

Norbert Kurilla, State Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Slovak Republic

The third panel on ‘Investing in the net zero emissions economy’ identified the type of investments and investment strategies that would lead to the achievement of a climate neutrality economy, how to increase these investments and redirect capital flows towards investments with a positive climate impact.

Speakers agreed that climate neutrality by 2050 needed to be the destination for Europe and that this objective brings a clear direction for necessary political and business action. Despite growing momentum and recognition of the benefits, illustrated by commitments made by companies and countries, the transition requires scaling up and accelerating efforts from all stakeholders and thus close cooperation between policymakers and businesses. By setting ambitious objectives and legislation policymakers can provide a framework which can help businesses to harness and accelerate the transition. Existing solutions illustrate the feasibility for Europe to achieve a climate neutral and prosperous future. This involves however, making the right decisions when further developing identified drivers like innovation, sustainable investments and the decarbonisation of industry. The EU must also take a leadership role on the global stage by adopting ambitious objectives and encouraging others to follow.

"Business and government need to work together and exchange ideas to ensure we achieve the climate goals of the Paris Agreement. The Green Growth Summit does this by allowing for genuine exchange of ideas, opportunities and solutions to challenges"

Seppo Parvi, CFO, Stora Enso

Summarising the main takeaways of the day’s discussions, Eliot Whittington, Director of Policy, CISL, Director of CLG Europe said: ‘The first panel made it clear that climate neutrality was and needed to be the destination. It also showed that the destination was positive with big questions on how to overcome challenges like the future of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). The second panel demonstrated that we must have decarbonisation, but not de-industrialisation and that leadership examples prompted some optimism. As for the final panel, it showed the essential nature of moving money and investments to the right places, and how we shift finance through green bonds and the Sustainable Finance Action plan. We have to deal with the change brought about by the transition and, as such, make the right decisions’

Speakers included:

  • Carole Dieschbourg, Minister for the Environment, Climate and Sustainable Development, Luxembourg
  • Krista Mikkonen, Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, Finland
  • Norbert Kurilla, State Secretary of the Ministry of Environment, Slovak Republic
  • Maria Patek, Federal Minister for Sustainability and Tourism, Austria
  • Juris Pūce, Minister for Environmental Protection and Regional Development, Latvia
  • Lord Ian Duncan, Minister for Climate Change, United Kingdom
  • Dr Karsten Sach, Director General, Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, Germany
  • Eva Svedling, State Secretary for Climate, Ministry of the Environment and Energy, Sweden
  • Emma Navarro, Vice-President, European Investment Bank
  • Martin Lindqvist, President and Chief Executive Officer, SSAB
  • Seppo Parvi, Chief Financial Officer, Deputy to the CEO, Stora Enso
  • Harry Verhaar, Head, Global Public and Government Affairs, Signify
  • Simon Connell, Chair of the BEI, Head of Sustainability Strategy, Standard Chartered
  • Sam Van den plas, Policy Director, Carbon Market Watch
  • Geanne van Arkel, Head of Sustainable Development, Interface EMEA
  • Dr André van Wageningen, Director Public Affairs EU/NL, DSM
  • Monica Mireles Serrano, Head of European Affairs, Ingka Group/IKEA 
  • John Scott, Head of Sustainability Risk, Zurich Insurance Group
  • Artur Runge Metzger, Director, Climate strategy, Governance and Emissions from Non-trading Sectors, Directorate General for Climate Action, European Commission

Read the summary notes here

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