Europe’s current economic model “has no future” and does not respond to “major environmental challenges,” Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa said on Friday, calling for the adoption of new models such as the circular economy and sustainable bioeconomy.
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need to ‘rethink’ the economic development of the EU, which recently pledged to become the first climate neutral continent by 2050, Costa said speaking to the opening session of a high-level conference ‘Climate Change – New economic models’.
“The economic model that has brought us so far has no future and does not allow us to respond to major environmental challenges: fighting climate change, reducing pollution and reversing the loss of biodiversity,” said Costa. , whose country currently holds the six-month rotating presidency of the EU.
According to Costa, the EU’s response to the impact of the pandemic must encompass not only support for economic and social recovery, but also the promotion of a “new development. [that is] fairer and more equitable and within the limits of natural systems ”that support life.
Frans Timmermans, executive vice-president of the European Commission in charge of the Green Deal, called for a more circular economy to reduce emissions.
“Our model of resource extraction, use and disposal has to change. We need to completely change the way products are designed, processed, manufactured and consumed, ”Timmermans told the conference.
“The market needs products that can be made, used, reused, recycled and reused again. We need to have products that are increasingly made from recyclable materials. This will help us grow, while reducing the pressure on our environment, ”he added.
Today, the world consumes about one and a half times its capacity to provide renewable and non-renewable resources. By 2050, the world population could reach 9.6 billion and estimates suggest that the world would need three planets to maintain the current way of life.
The EU launched its circular economy action plan in March last year, calling for longer product life and better repairability. In a recent resolution on the plan, the European Parliament put forward ambitious proposals in this regard, including binding targets to reduce waste.
Europe must act quickly to decouple growth from emissions and resources and rebalance our life with the planet, Timmermans said at the conference.
The international event was organized by the Portuguese Ministry of Environment and Climate Action under Portugal’s six-month EU Presidency. It aimed to discuss the contribution of new economic models, including the circular economy and sustainable bioeconomy, in the fight against climate change while promoting an economic and social recovery just within the limits of nature.
Timmermans also suggested using the € 750 billion COVID stimulus fund to transform the EU economy into a more circular model.
“If we spend wisely, we can ensure that what we produce is sustainable, that energy is clean, that we have a resource-efficient economy, where our cities are green and waste is minimized, and where nature is protected and restored, ”he said. noted.
“At the end of the day, it’s not about saving the planet, it’s about saving ourselves. It is only by restoring the balance with our environment that we can have a better life for ourselves and also for all those who will come after us ”, he added.
Portugal was one of the first countries to submit its draft recovery plan to the European Commission. Lisbon aims to devote 47% of its European funds to climate transition while ensuring that no investment is harmful to the environment, according to Costa.
[Edited by Frédéric Simon]