quinta-feira, 9 de dezembro de 2021

Interview with EU Commission Executive Vice President Frans Timmermans


Frans Timmermans has been charged with making sure we’re all on board with saving the world. The European Commission’s climate chief and executive vice president is the first custodian of the EU’s multi-decade project to turn the Continent carbon neutral by 2050. But getting there will require big changes for major corporations and to our everyday lives. Not everyone is going to go along happily. Timmermans has repeatedly said it will be “bloody hard” to get the job done, but he argues that the sooner Europe weans itself off fossil fuels, the sooner it will reap the benefits of renewable energy and clean industries. His first big policy battle will be getting European countries to agree to slap a carbon levy on road transport — an issue that has already sparked fierce pushback. That’s just the beginning. As he strives to sell the Fit for 55 package of wonky legislation to skeptical capitals, the prospect of bans on cars, rising fuel prices and shuttered power plants will sharply expose the risk of widening the gap between rich and poor. The 60-year-old politician is aware of the challenge that awaits him. He saw what happened in France after a hike in fuel prices triggered violent Yellow Jackets demonstrations across the country. As the highest-ranking socialist in the College of Commissioners and a descendant of Dutch coal miners, he says he understands the need to ensure that saving the world doesn’t come at the expense of the poor. At the COP26 summit in November, he was the EU’s envoy pushing for tough language on phasing out coal globally. But as the face of the EU’s Green Deal and the showman selling its vision to the world, he’ll need to win people over fast and allay fears that the measures targeted at slashing emissions will sink living standards and leave millions unemployed.

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