Most climate and environment ministers in the 27-nation EU now back a call to put the European Green Deal at the heart of a post-coronavirus recovery after Ireland, Slovakia, Slovenia and Malta joined an appeal by 13 of their EU colleagues.
Climate Home News published the original letter on 9 April, when it was signed by representatives of 10 governments. France, Germany and Greece joined in the next two days and the latest round raises the total to 17.
The ministers urge Europe to remember the challenges of climate change when designing long-term strategies for a resilient recovery from the “unprecedented crisis” of the pandemic, which has killed more than 165,000 people worldwide.
On Monday, Irish minister for communications, climate action and environment Richard Bruton, Slovak minister of environment Ján Budaj, Slovenia’s minister of the environment and spatial planning Andrej Vizjak, and Malta’s minister for the environment, climate change and planning Aaron Farrugia joined the list of signatories.
Citizens’ assemblies on climate change seek to shape the post-Covid recovery
The now 17-strong letter says: “The focus is presently on fighting the pandemic and its immediate consequences. We should, however, begin to prepare ourselves to rebuild our economy and to introduce the necessary recovery plans to bring renewed, sustainable progress and prosperity back to Europe and its citizens.
“While doing so, we must not lose sight of the persisting climate and ecological crisis. Building momentum to fight this battle has to stay high on the political agenda.”
It adds that the Green Deal, an EU blueprint to reach net zero emissions of greenhouse gases by 2050, should be central to any resilient recovery.
“The Green Deal provides us with a roadmap to make the right choices in responding to the economic crisis while transforming Europe into a sustainable and climate neutral economy,” they write.
“We should withstand the temptations of short-term solutions in response to the present crisis that risk locking the EU in a fossil fuel economy for decades to come.”
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The original 10 signatories were Austria, Denmark, Finland, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Sweden.
The latest additions mean that countries outside the appeal are Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland and Romania.
It is unclear why some waited before endorsing the appeal, but Germany’s Environment Minister Svenja Schulze put it down to a mistake in communication.