Posted on Nov 16, 2022
A senior European Commission official has admitted there is a “mountain to climb” to reach climate-related objectives. In a frank admission, Patrick Child, Deputy Director General in DG RTD Research and Innovation, said it was necessary to “win the hearts and minds” of the public in order to achieve the EU’s climate goals.
Child, the Commission’s Deputy Director-General DG Environment, was speaking exclusively to this website.
While he admitted there was still “much to do” to reach emission-reduction targets, he denied that the EU was “lagging behind” in such efforts.
His comments came at the Transport Research Arena conference where, earlier, he gave a keynote speech on the future of transport.
He was also attending the flagship transport event in his role as the EU’s Cities Mission Manager for climate-neutral and smart cities. This is a grouping representing 100 cities in the EU plus some non-EU cities.
He explained that this is one of five “flagship” EU funded programmes which each aim to “meet the challenge” of “delivering on the Green Deal.”
He said, “We are doing what we can to support these cities on a journey they have already embarked upon.”
Child noted that some 75 pc of the population in Europe live in cities and cities account for 70pc of global CO2 emissions.
Child said, “I do not mind admitting that the targets and goals set by the EU are very ambitious and this will need swift and demanding action.
“But we must do this in order to achieve the Green Deal.”
He refused to accept the EU or national member states were lagging behind in efforts to cut emissions by up to 90 per cent by 2030.
He said, “On the contrary, we are all making extremely great progress on this with the deployment of various measures. I also hope that Cities Mission members will soon be able to put their action plans in place.”
Child added, “The main message I wanted to convey at this conference is the at urban mobility is a huge part of the 2030 goals and that, in order to reach our objectives, we need to get everyone together on this.”
Despite pressures on national budgets he still believes the political will exists to meet climate related goals, saying, “Yes, it is there without doubt. This is important, not least so that we can wean ourselves off our current dependency on Russian gas.”
He believes also that the current energy crisis and conflict in Ukraine have helped “focus minds” on the need to reduce emissions and find alternative sources of energy.
Earlier, speaking at a plenary session on “green mobility and decarbonisation” Child spoke about the European Green Deal.
This is a package of policy initiatives aiming to set the EU on the path to a green transition, with the ultimate goal of reaching climate neutrality by 2050, thus reducing 90% of transport-related greenhouse gas emissions. To reach this goal, the Sustainable and Smart Mobility Strategy is one of the key tools, aiming to increase the uptake of zero-emission vehicles and have at least 100 climate-neutral cities in Europe by 2030.
Child told the audience, “We see increasingly cities offering low-cost public transport subscriptions and redesigning traffic management,” stressed Child.
“Moving towards greener behaviour is the solution, but winning hearts and minds is difficult,” warned Child.
The conference has attracted over 2,000 participants from all over Europe and concludes on Thursday.
Follow EU Today on Social media: