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Greening the Transatlantic Relationship

Far from derailing Europe's plans to achieve net-zero emissions, the COVID-19 pandemic has put climate action at the very center of EU policymaking. The only question now is whether Europe's oldest friend and ally will stop dragging its feet and come back to the table to help lead on this globally defining issue.

BRUSSELS – Before 2020, calls to address climate change had been growing louder and more urgent in Europe. It was a growing political liability for governments to ignore the issue, particularly after a mass movement of young people took to the streets to demand action. In normal times, a crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic would end this growing momentum. But these are not normal times.

Instead, the European Union recently agreed to a massive economic-policy package with a substantial climate component. Fully 30% of the EU common budget for the next seven years, and a significant part of the bloc’s new €750 billion ($890 billion) recovery fund, have been reserved for investments in the green transition. Equally important, the entire budget will abide by a “do no harm” principle, so that all spending remains compatible with the goals outlined in the Paris climate agreement.

Although it is too early to tell precisely how this funding will be allocated, it is clear that July 2020 will be remembered for marking a paradigm shift. Europe has officially put climate health at the center of all its major political and economic initiatives.

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