In July 2019, Ursula von der Leyen was elected the European Commission President with the objective to make Europe the first climate-neutral continent in the world by 2050 in line with her strong message “We need to act now!” Even though EU Member States are on the way to meet the Paris Agreement goals and United Nations’ 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda goals, there is still a lot to do. Climate change and environmental degradation are an existential threat to Europe and the world, and this is why, in the matter of weeks after being sworn into office, von der Leyen’s Commission presented a new comprehensive strategy - the European Green Deal - as a response to these challenges.
This new growth strategy aims to transform EU’s economy into a fair and prosperous society in helping European companies to become world leaders in green products and offer aid to regions affected by this economic transition.” It aims also to protect, conserve and enhance the EU’s natural capital and improve the well-being of citizens.
To achieve the climate-neutrality objective, the European Commission published a proposal at the beginning of March for the first European Climate Law, which aims to achieve zero net greenhouse gas emissions for EU Member States and the EU as a whole, and ensure that all EU policies and sectors contribute to the objective of climate neutrality. Moreover, various sectors of the EU's economy would need to take action, among other things, by investing in environmentally-friendly technologies, supporting industry to innovate, rolling out cleaner, cheaper and healthier forms of private and public transport, etc. The Commission proposals will now be scrutinised by the European Parliament and the Council of the EU under the ordinary legislative procedure.
In addition, making the EU climate neutral by 2050 requires significant investment from EU funds, Member States and the private sector. To achieve this objective, the Commission recently presented the Sustainable Europe Investment Plan, which is the investment pillar of the Green Deal. The plan will mobilise at least €1 trillion in sustainable investments over the next decade through the EU budget (25 % of the envisaged programmes under the new Multiannual Financial Framework and beyond MFF) and associated instruments, in particular, InvestEU.
Green Deal’s relevance to sport
In accordance with the Commission’s strategy, the involvement and commitment of the public and all stakeholders is crucial to the success of the European Green Deal. Recent political events show that game changing policies work only if citizens are strongly involved in designing them. In order to make a Green Deal that suits everyone, the Commission is implementing a second climate action initiative, entitled "European Climate Pact". It aims to collect the ideas and opinions of citizens on the needs and activities to be carried out within the framework of this pact.
A few days ago, the Commission launched an open public consultation in the framework of the Climate Pact for a period of 15 weeks (until 27th of May). It gives the opportunity to citizens and organisations, including sport stakeholders, to express their ideas and views on how to make this pact as effective, inclusive and ambitious as possible.
Sport organisations and the Olympic movement are directly concerned by the impacts of climate change and by other environmental issues, and are increasingly becoming active in countering these negative impacts. By replying to the above-mentioned consultation and by following actively EU’s developments in this area, sport organisations not only can demonstrate their readiness to act and to raise awareness of the environmental issues among the general public, but they can also open new avenues of cooperation with the EU, including receiving possible financial support for their investment (e.g. sport infrastructure) and non-investment initiatives.