“Restore Our Earth!” was the theme and rallying cry for this year’s Earth Day on 22 April. This is not something that could be achieved on a single day. Yet, Earth Day 2021 might signal a greater turning of the tide as the world enters the “Green Twenties.”
Multilateralism has been in trouble for a while, particularly at the global level. Yet, the European Union (EU) and its member states have remained among its staunchest supporters.In their June 2019 Council Conclusions, EU leaders drew the outlines of a common European vision to uphold, extend and reform the multilateral system. Against an increasingly complex and contested geopolitical backdrop, these goals were further developed in the recent EU Communication on Multilateralism, published in February 2021.
In this guest contribution for ECDPM, Dr Jide Martyns Okeke argues that collective African leadership and deliberate investments in boosting intra-African trade and digital transformation could accelerate the quest for silencing the guns on the continent.
2020 was dominated by a collective global crisis on an unprecedented scale, the impact of which was felt differently around the globe and in parts of society. And the Covid-19 pandemic will continue to cast its shadow this year. The fight against Covid-19 and the recovery in the economy and society are coming at the same time as several major events in international environmental and climate policy.
“What happens in the Arctic does not stay in the Arctic. It affects us all.”
The EU intends to play a pioneering role in the future, armed with a “clear and coherent Arctic policy”. If this is to succeed, the EU will need to take the lessons learned from the pandemic into account because COVID-19 has exacerbated existing inequalities and challenges in the region, particularly in terms of infrastructure and healthcare.
Energy renovations are a priority for post-crisis recovery plans, both in France, in the European Union and in the world.1 This urgency can be explained both by its rapidly mobilizable economic potential, its key role for climate policies, and by the importance of the fight against energy poverty in a context of increasing vulnerabilities. While proposals for France’s recovery plans abound,2 the challenge now is to identify the most effective levers for combining economic recovery with scaling-up of highly performant deep retrofits, which is a prerequisite for moving onto a convergent path with France’s national low-carbon strategy.
Beginning in July, Germany will hold the European Council Presidency until the end of the year, a term that will be characterised by the effects of the corona pandemic and the efforts to manage it. The Council Presidency should be used to mould the processes of the EU recovery plan and the MFF in a way that delivers decisive impulses for an orientation towards climate and sustainability goals. A further summit of the EU heads of state and government will take place in July, tasked with reaching agreement on the EU recovery plan.
The German post-crisis recovery plan was unveiled by the coalition government on the night of June 3-4. With a total volume of €130 billion, and therefore much higher than initially expected, it provides for nearly €35 billion for climate-friendly investments, particularly in the transport sector and in the development of a hydrogen industry, partly based on the proposals made by Agora Energiewende.1 Although the initial assessment is rather positive, efforts are still required, particularly in the buildings sector, for the acceptability of renewable energies or the reduction of electricity taxation. The recovery plan as presented sends a strong signal regarding the direction the German economic and climate policy will take, as the country will take over the rotating Presidency of the Council of the European Union as of July.
The years preceding the health crisis linked to the Covid-19 pandemic, marked in particular by the oil counter-shock of 2014 and the signing of the Paris Climate Agreement of 2015, saw the emergence of (weak) signals of diversification of the activity and investment of certain oil companies—essentially the European majors—towards low-carbon energies. While these announcements could have a knock-on effect on the sector, they are still very insufficient in view of the effort required to initiate a rapid and profound transition of the sector towards decarbonisation,2 and are contested by several civil society actors.