European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen delivered her State of the Union 2020 address today, presenting the European Green Deal as a blueprint for the upcoming transformation of the European Union, and included new proposed targets for emissions reductions and green bond financing.

In her speech, the President said:

“There is no more urgent need for acceleration than when it comes to the future of our fragile planet. While much of the world’s activity froze during lockdowns and shutdowns, the planet continued to get dangerously hotter. We see it all around us: from homes evacuated due to glacier collapse on the Mont Blanc, to fires burning through Oregon, to crops destroyed in Romania by the most severe drought in decades. But we also saw nature come back into our lives. We longed for green spaces and cleaner air for our mental health and our physical wellbeing.

“We know change is needed – and we also know it is possible. The European Green Deal is our blueprint to make that transformation. At the heart of it is our mission to become the first climate-neutral continent by 2050. But we will not get there with the status quo – we need to go faster and do things better.”

The President then went on to state that he European Commission will now propose raising its target for emissions reductions by 2030 to 55% from 40%. According to the Commission, this will put the EU on track for climate neutrality by 2050 and for meeting its Paris Agreement obligations. The President referenced an open letter sent yesterday by over 170 European businesses and investors calling for the 55% level, saying:

“I recognise that this increase from 40 to 55 is too much for some, and not enough for others. But our impact assessment clearly shows that our economy and industry can manage this. And they want it too. Just yesterday, 170 business leaders and investors – from SME’s to some of the world’s biggest companies – wrote to me calling on Europe to set a target of at least 55%.”

Additionally, the President announced that a full 30% of the €750 billion NextGenerationEU budget will be raised through green bonds, and that 37% of the funding will be invested in European Green Deal objectives, including ‘lighthouse’ European projects – hydrogen, green building and 1 million electric charging points. The President said:

“We are world leaders in green finance and the largest issuer of green bonds worldwide. We are leading the way in developing a reliable EU Green Bond Standard.

“And I can today announce that we will set a target of 30% of NextGenerationEU’s 750 billion euro to be raised through green bonds.”