20 April 2021
Chairman Keating, ranking member Fitzpatrick, distinguished members of the Subcommittee,
It is a really great honour and a pleasure to offer you a testimony as a Dutchman and European who believes in the enduring strength of our Transatlantic Partnership.
As we are still in the midst of the fight against covid19 we are also challenged by the climate and biodiversity crises. Both of them are closely linked and mutually reinforce each other.
Covid is also a result of our failure to balance our relationship with our natural environment.
The costs of non-action are increasing by the day: freak storms, erratic weather patterns, floods, wildfires, and the astonishing and swift loss of species on which we are reliant for the crops that feed us. And unfortunately, there is a strong nexus between these crises and security as we will face conflicts over water and arable lands in certain parts of the world.
And yes, I am a grandfather and the risk of our grandchildren going to war over water and food is something we really need to avoid in advance.
The European Green Deal is our answer. A modern growth strategy, encompassing everything from our mobility, our built environment, our energy production and consumption, our agriculture, our international trade and our taxonomy.
We pledged to become climate-neutral by 2050. And in December 2020 European leaders committed to a new 2030 target of at least 55% emissions reductions compared to 1990.
In the near-term, approximately 800 billion of Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) is Europe’s medium-term answer to the COVID-19 crisis and the centrepiece of the “Next Generation EU”, which is our EU’s recovery fund; 30% of the approximately 2 trillion dollars of the EU budget for the next 7 years are to be earmarked for climate action. And 100% of our budget should ‘do no significant harm’. And should never go into another direction.
A comprehensive legislative package will be proposed in June to meet this enhanced goal.
In short, there are 12 proposals in the pipeline to bolster existing policies and regulations, strengthen targets and shift incentives towards sustainable practices in particular with regard to our emission cap and trade system, with regard to increasing our natural carbon sinks by protecting and restoring our forests, our forests are in a really bad shape, to our energy production in terms of more renewables, and differentiated energy taxation, and with regard to even higher emission standards for our cars and vans, and an extended charging infrastructure across the European continent.
While we green and decarbonise our economy, we also have to ensure that we prevent so-called carbon leakage. That is why we are drafting a Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM), designed to address this risk which, if unchecked, could lead to an increase of emissions globally. Ideally and preferably, if every country would fulfill its Paris commitments, it would never have to be used.
I have laid out this ‘fit for 55’ package in more detail in my written testimony, and I am happy to exchange views with you today.
This transition will be just, or there just will be no transition. This must be our guiding principle. That’s why distributional issues will play a central role in the design of our policies, and I see this also well understood on the other side of the Atlantic.
We are not telling people to go live in cold caves and munch on grass. Ours is a positive proposition; one of cleaner air and water, lower energy bills, and of food with less pesticides. A proposition of a more resilient and inclusive economy for all with local jobs that are not immediately outsourced, like the insulation of homes and the installation of solar panels.
COP15 on Biodiversity in Kunming, China this October, and COP26 on Climate Change in Glasgow, UK this November will tell us whether the world will finally show its determination and commitment to do what is necessary.
We are more hopeful and optimistic of our success now that “America is back”. The appointment of Secretary Kerry as the President’s special Climate Envoy is the best sign that the US means business and what John has been doing in the past few months is amazing, it really gives us all a lot of hope.
We are looking forward to working together with the Biden administration as well as with all of you. Our objective is nothing less than the health and well-being of our people, of our kids and our grandkids.
Thank you very much.
The written testimony is available here: