ISSN 2330-717X

As EU Seeks To Cut Fossil Fuel Ties With Russia, CEOs Step Up With Action Plan On Energy And Food Security

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The Russian invasion of Ukraine has exposed Europe’s energy insecurity, threatening to reverse decades of progress away from fossil fuels and toward renewables. To meet carbon-neutrality goals in the face of this challenge, and to address vulnerabilities resulting from dependence on Russian hydrocarbons, the World Economic Forum has convened business and public-sector leaders who have jointly committed to a redoubling of efforts to continue Europe’s clean energy transition.

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The CEO Action Group for the European Green Deal published its Manifesto on Implementing the European Green Deal in the New Global Context. The CEO Action Group, representing 50 European companies with a combined annual turnover of €1.4 trillion, renewed its commitment to a 55% emissions reduction target by 2030. The group said it will focus its efforts not only on energy but also on food systems – the insecurity of which was also laid bare after the invasion of Ukraine on 24 February. The manifesto specifies four drivers crucial to achieving this green transformation: innovation ecosystems; job markets; sustainability standards; and financing. It calls for closer collaboration with national and regional policy-makers to facilitate that transformation.

Mark Rutte, Prime Minister of the Netherlands, identified expansion of renewable energy as the key to achieving genuine strategic autonomy for the EU. “Reducing unwanted strategic dependencies is needed to strengthen the EU’s open strategic autonomy. Renewables give us the freedom to choose an energy source that is clean, cheap, reliable and ours. To make our own energy is the best answer. To do more in offshore wind, in solar power, in hydrogen, in biomethane.”  

European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde emphasized the crucial role the private sector must play. “The transition to net zero can only succeed if the private sector contributes decisively,” she said. “It is important that business and industry leaders live up to the commitments of the European Green Deal.”

“The European Union is determined to end our dependence on Russian fossil fuels as quickly as possible. We need to boost investment in the technologies of the future and stop funding Putin’s war machine,” warned European Commission Executive Vice-President Frans Timmermans. “Renewables are the answer. By ramping up the roll-out of solar, wind, biomethane and renewable hydrogen, the RePowerEU plan greatly accelerates Europe’s transition to climate neutrality.”

“The current global geopolitical landscape has marked a turning point for Europe. Energy security has enhanced the need to meet climate goals on an accelerated timeline, therefore the CEO Action Group for the EU Green Deal will be key in setting the trajectory for European Union’s green transition. Today’s manifesto marks an important moment for the community and reinforces the need for public private cooperation to achieve climate ambitions,” said Børge Brende, President of the World Economic Forum.

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“Now is the time to position Europe as a clear frontrunner in the green transition,” said Ester Baiget, CEO and President of Danish biotech company Novozymes. “With biotechnology, we can reach a climate-neutral society and feed our growing world more sustainably while reducing land use, use of chemicals and food waste. The potential is truly amazing,” Baiget said. “But it requires bold leadership and joint forces, with a regulatory framework that supports development, and the right incentives that take us into the future – not fossil-based solutions from the past. Companies and leaders of the EU must work together to make Europe greener and more sustainable, driving the journey for inclusive economic growth.”

“Europe has a unique opportunity to make itself greener, healthier and more sustainable to the benefit of all Europeans. Companies and CEOs can support this journey, which will make Europe also more competitive while striving for inclusive growth,” said Feike Sybesma, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of the Royal Philips.

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