European leaders have called for green investments in their coronavirus recovery plans, citing the need for clean air and a circular economy to rebuild resilience. On April 15, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen reaffirmed strong support for the European Green Deal, which aims for zero carbon emissions in the European Union (EU) bloc by 2050. “On the European Green Deal, the political necessity is as strong as it was before the crisis because climate change and global warming did not stop,” said von der Leyen (Bloomberg).

The statement followed a letter issued by 180 politicians, companies, trade unions, activists, and nonprofits on April 14, urging the EU to adopt environmental stimulus measures to rebuild the economy after the pandemic. A separate letter, signed by 10 EU countries including France, Germany, and Greece, also supported advancing Green Deal measures in recovery plans. Countries in favor of relaxing climate measures due to the pandemic include Poland and the Czech Republic (Reuters).

Other EU leaders in support of a green recovery include European Council President Charles Michel and EU climate chief Frans Timmermans (Bloomberg). “It is a false contradiction to say that the Green Deal is a luxury we cannot afford. The floods, droughts, wildfires, sea rise, and desertification are going to hit us hard. Moreover, retreating nature and melting permafrost will confront us with more unknown viruses,” Timmermans wrote in an article published April 16 (EURACTIV).