Luncheon-debate held with Kurt Vandenberghe, Director-General for Climate Action at the European Commission


Last Friday 15 December, the Official Spanish Chamber of Commerce in Belgium held a new luncheon-debate in the framework of its “Business Circle” tribune, in which Kurt Vandenberghe, Director General for Climate Action at the European Commission, spoke on “Joining forces for the Green Deal: stocktaking and forward-thinking ahead of the 2024 elections”.

The President of the Chamber, Pablo López-Álvarez, opened the lunch by introducing the subject of the debate, giving a brief summary of the speaker’s professional career and giving way to Katia Riva, Chief Sustainability and Innovation Officer of Mundys (the event’s sponsoring association).

In her speech, Riva spoke about the environmental impact of transport management, to which her enterprise is dedicated, and about how the transition to green energies should be in the coming years in order to move away from fossil fuels. She assured that this transition will bring both risks and opportunities from an investment and collaboration perspective. Riva expressed Mundys’ commitment in this regard by declaring its intention to achieve zero emissions in its infrastructures by 2040, thus participating in a decarbonisation process that will require innovation brought by both private and public capital.

Innovation as the only option

Kurt Vandenberghe then took the floor to comment on the global climate situation: “Climate change is a threat of which we are already seeing the first consequences. 2023 was the hottest year on record for 25,000 years because of the concentration of CO2 in our atmosphere, and the average temperature of the planet is rising alarmingly”.

The speaker, who had just returned from Dubai after his participation in COP28, said that to combat the Climate change, the Commission has first organised the European Climate Risk Assessment (EUCRA), which will analyse the different risks Europe faces with regard to climate change. The climate agenda that will be pursued is also an economic and financial agenda that will involve fundamental changes in the way we live, travel and eat.

Vandenberghe believes that Europe is still very dependent on fossil fuel imports, having paid over 600 million euros for oil, gas and coal imports last year, which is unsustainable. He says this makes innovation the only option for Europe, especially in areas such as agriculture and food.

To conclude his speech, the Director General thanked companies such as Mundys for their commitment to simultaneously reducing their emissions and making progress in innovation.

After the presentation, there was an extensive question and answer session in which topics such as the challenges faced in agriculture and livestock farming, or the future work of the Commission to achieve emission reductions, were discussed.

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