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16th September 2020 | Press Releases

Irish Green MEPs welcome climate ambition from European Commission President von der Leyen

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Irish Green Party MEPs Ciarán Cuffe and Grace O’Sullivan have welcomed the increased ambition on climate action contained in today’s State of the Union address by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to the European Parliament. In her speech she committed to proposing the EU cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030. The Green MEPs said that this is not enough to address the climate crisis, but is an important step in the right direction.

Ciarán Cuffe, MEP for Dublin said, ‘’We have come a long way in the past year. The European Green Deal and the objective of achieving climate neutrality are now front and centre in EU policy-making. I welcome the promise to revise laws to align with the 55% target by next summer – this will touch upon energy efficiency, energy taxation and renewable energies – but we need 65% to comply with the Paris agreement.’’

Mr. Cuffe said that practical action is now required. Noting that buildings produce almost 40% of greenhouse gas emissions in Europe he called for a ‘Renovation Wave’ to upgrade existing buildings, reduce emissions  and tackle energy poverty. Mr. Cuffe has written a report for the Parliament on how this can be achieved: ‘Maximising the energy efficiency of the EU building stock’ is tabled in the European Parliament today.

While Green Party MEP and Spokesperson for the Marine Grace O’Sullivan welcomes President von der Leyen’s commitment to increasing the European Union’s climate target, she called for  more commitments around marine supports: “I was impressed by the President’s strong language and talk of concrete action around a European health, biodiversity & climate and economic recovery; however ambition is still lacking in the area of marine protection and a ‘blue’ recovery. There is, however, much to welcome here.

“When the President acknowledges that current levels of consumption are not sustainable, she speaks my language. I welcome what she describes as an investment plan for Europe. I am also particularly heartened by the compassion and strong commitments this State of the Union shows to the more vulnerable and marginalised amongst us, including the LGBTI community in Poland and immigrant and refugee communities throughout Europe.

“I’ve been a peace activist for over forty years, and so, particularly as an Irish woman, I welcomed the Commission President’s reference to our own great peace-maker, the late John Hume. Quoting John Hume she said: ‘difference is not a threat, difference is natural, difference is the essence of humanity.’ This, I believe, speaks to the heart of how we, as a union of nations, must progress into the future, in every aspect of our lives.”