This Call to Action, signed by WBCSD President & CEO Peter Bakker and María Mendiluce, Interim CEO We Mean Business & WBCSD Managing Director Climate & Energy, originally appeared online on 14 April 2020.
The coronavirus crisis is shaking the whole world, with devastating consequences across Europe. We are being put to the test. We are suffering and mourning our losses, and this crisis is testing the limits of our system. It is also a test of our great European solidarity and of our institutions, which acted fast at the start of the crisis to deploy measures to protect us. The crisis is still ongoing, but we will see the light at the end of the tunnel, and by fighting together, we will beat the virus.
Never have we faced such a challenging situation in peacetime. The fight against the pandemic is our top priority and everything that is needed to stop it and eradicate the virus must be done. We welcome and strongly support all the actions developed by governments, EU institutions, local authorities, scientists, medical staff, volunteers, citizens and economic actors.
In this tremendously difficult situation, we are also facing another crisis: a shock to our economy tougher than the 2008 crisis. The major shock to the economy and workers created by the pandemic calls for a strong coordinated economic response. We therefore welcome the declaration of European leaders stating that they will do "whatever it takes" to tackle the social and economic consequences of this crisis. However, what worked for the 2008 financial crisis may not be sufficient to overcome this one. The economic recovery will only come with massive investments to protect and create jobs and to support all the companies, regions and sectors that have suffered from the economy coming to a sudden halt.
After the crisis, the time will come to rebuild. This moment of recovery will be an opportunity to rethink our society and develop a new model of prosperity. This new model will have to answer to our needs and priorities.
These massive investments must trigger a new economic model: more resilient, more protective more sovereign and more inclusive. All these requirements lie in an economy built around Green principles. Indeed, the transition to a climate-neutral economy, the protection of biodiversity and the transformation of agri-food systems have the potential to rapidly deliver jobs, growth and improve the way of life of all citizens worldwide, and to contribute to building more resilient societies.
This is not a matter of creating a new economy from scratch. We already have all the tools and many new technologies. Over the last 10 years, tremendous progress has been made in most transition sectors, developing new technologies and value chain, and dramatically reducing the cost of the transition (including inter alia: renewable energy, zero emission mobility, agroecology, energy efficiency...). 10 years ago, zero-emission vehicles were only a prototype. 10 years ago, wind energy was three times more expensive than it is today, and solar energy seven times. 10 years ago, we had not carried out renovation work on buildings showing that this action is profitable.
Political will is here. We already have the plans and strategy. Projects such as the European Green Deal, and other national zero carbon development plans have a huge potential to build back our economy and contribute to creating a new prosperity model. We therefore considerthat we need to prepare Europe for the future, and design recovery plans, both at the national and at the EU level, enshrining the fight against climate change as the core of the economic strategy. The time has come to turn these plans into actions and investments that will change the life of citizens and contribute to the quick recovery of our economies and our societies.
We also acknowledge that the social impact of the Covid-19 epidemic is already tremendous and resistance to further investments in the transition to a climate-neutral economy is not the way forward. For initiatives, such as the European Green Deal, to continue to be widely accepted, they more than ever have to respond to the social needs of our society. Progress has been made in identifying the potential social challenges of the transition, and tools have been developed to secure a fair and just transition.
We call on global alliance of cross-party political decision-makers, business and financial leaders, NGOs, think tankers, stakeholders, to support and implement the establishment of Green Recovery Investment Packages acting as accelerators of the transition towards climate neutrality and healthy ecosystems. We therefore commit to working together, sharing knowledge, exchanging expertise and creating synergies to deliver the investment decisions we need.
Covid-19 will not make climate change and nature degradation go away. We will not win the fight against covid-19 without a solid economic response. Let’s not oppose those two battles, but let’s fight and win them at the same time. By doing so, we will only be stronger together.
Signatories to this Call to Action include European MEPs, civil society groups, CEOs, business associations, the European trade union confederation, NGOs and think tanks.
To find an up-to-date list of all signatories, please consult the Green Recovery Alliance Call to Action here.