The financial crisis of 2008 was an eye opener for most of us. Laws, financial projections, and our habits changed drastically and with little warning. Almost just as quickly, life returned to what we were used to. By 2010, CO2 emissions were already at the same level as before the financial crisis – even though they had fallen by as much as eight percent during that period.
In addition to the human and economic costs, one of the most significant impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic has been the drastic drop in CO2 emissions. If the trend from the 2008 financial crisis repeats itself, then the pandemic could end up damaging far more than it has already done. With the figures from the financial crisis fresh in our memory, we now have a unique opportunity to ensure that history does not repeat itself.
Reaching a CO2-neutral Europe by 2050
In an attempt to recover economically in the wake of COVID-19, European governments risk downgrading the green momentum in the process. That is why the EU's green aid package is an incredibly important springboard for accelerating both the creation of new jobs and the green transition. And this is absolutely crucial in order to achieve the goal of a CO2-neutral Europe by 2050.
To reach our goal, it is important that we remember the buildings that we live and work in. Representing a total value of 150 billion euros, they are more than bricks, wood and roof tiles. In the EU, buildings are also one of the largest sources of CO2 emissions, with more than one-third of all emissions coming from buildings, primarily from heating. It is mega-challenges like this that the new EU budget must address. Today, approximately 75 percent of the EU building stock is energy inefficient, meaning that a large part of the energy we use is wasted.