At the beginning of this month, the EU Commission and the European Investment Fund launched the 75 million equity BlueInvest Fund, dedicated to finance the innovative blue economy. We use this announcement as an opportunity to outline the views of the Commission and the European Investment Bank on how environmental challenges should be tackled.
On the 4th of February EURADA attended the BlueInvest Day held at the Royal Museum of Fine Arts of Belgium. This event brought together innovators, entrepreneurs, investors, corporates and enablers in the Blue Economy, with the objective of generating concrete business opportunities and visibility for your business. Two high-level speakers opened the conference: Virginijus SINKEVIČIUS, European Commissioner for Environment, Oceans & Fisheries and Emma NAVARRO, Vice President, European Investment Bank (EIB).
Mr. Sinkevičius defined the EU Green Deal as a game changer that will make Europe the first climate-change neutral continent by 2050. The message of European voters (particularly the youngest ones) was clear: they demand resolute political measures against climate change and environmental degradation. People are worried about their future and the future of their children and it is the current politicians’ duty to listen and act on this.
Focusing on blue economy, he asserted that in 30 years, maritime renewable energy sources (wind, waves and tides) will be able to meet more than one third of the Union’s energy demand. Ocean-based solutions can also make agriculture more sustainable: feeding cattle with dried algae can reduce methane emissions by 70%.
The success of the blue economy depends on high quality innovation and R&D. Europe already invests about EUR 250 million a year in these areas. The new R&D programme Horizon Europe will add another billion over the next seven years. Mr. Sinkevičius concluded his intervention calling for cooperation and stating that the EU will play a big role in facilitating the emergence of new innovative companies that challenge the status quo.
Emma Navarro stated in her intervention that “oceans are vital for life on Earth. But oceans are under threat and need to be protected. This is why we are developing innovative financing solutions to support the Blue economy.” This is the case of the BlueInvest Fund, a 75 million equity fund dedicated to support the blue economy launched by the Commission and the EIB the last 4th of February. However, the BlueInvest Fund is not an isolated initiative. We could name similar examples such as the Land Degradation Neutrality Fund or the Global Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Fund.
In 2007, the EIB launched the world’s first green bond and has now issued close to €26 billion in green bonds. Since 2012 the Bank has provided €150 billion for the climate and environment, supporting €550 billion of investments. In 2015, in support of the Paris agreement, they committed to invest $100 billion in climate projects over 5 years, and are on track to meet this goal. These actions, among others, made the institution one of the largest multilateral financiers for climate action.
But helping the world move towards a sustainable, carbon-neutral society is a complex job that requires a big transformation for European economies and lifestyles. This is an incredibly challenging mission that will have to be managed properly so that it doesn’t hurt society and nobody is left behind. Hefty investments over the next two decades are necessary. Achieving carbon neutrality and meeting the Paris agreement will require the European Union to invest an additional €175 billion to €290 billion each year. The EIB Group is prepared for new scenarios. They aim to align their activities with the principles of the Paris Agreement by this year. By 2025, they want to dedicate at least one half of their loans to support climate and environmental sustainability. Lastly, the EIB Group aims to unlock €1 trillion in investments from the public and private sectors for climate and environmental sustainability by 2030.
Written by Alex Arcos, Communication & Project Officer at EURADA.