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Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL)

8 February 2023 - Over forty organisations representing business innovation, green growth associations, clean tech entrepreneurs, think-tanks, institutes and NGOs are calling on the EU to make a success of the proposed Green Deal Industrial Plan.

 Read Competitive Sustainability Letter to European Council

Read the letter

In a letter to EU leaders, signatories offer guidance and call for rapid action on ten priority measures before this week’s Special European Council meeting which will help chart the EU response to the US Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). Together these suggested measures can ensure public funding is accessed more quickly across all EU budget lines so that private investment is urgently scaled up for early commercialisation and later stage deployment for climate technologies alike.

Signatories include member companies of CLG Europe including Signify and Iberdrola; green business organisations BCSD in Portugal and KlimaWirtschaft in Germany; the cleantech entrepreneurs at 1.5 Ventures and Solytic; think tanks E3G and I4CE in France, and climate leaders Climate Bonds Initiative Climate Strategy in Spain and the Solar Impulse Foundation. Together with dozens of other businesses and organisations, they are urging EU leaders to double-down on their international policy leadership on climate and sustainability.

Martin Porter, Executive Chair, Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL), a lead author of the Competitive Sustainability Index and Senior Advisor to CLG Europe said.

“The race to net zero has passed the tipping point and will determine global prosperity this century. This letter shows there’s a groundswell of support from businesses and NGOs for strengthening the EU’s strategy of competitive sustainability. EU leaders must now advance a genuinely ambitious and balanced Green Deal Industrial Plan and do so by working with the principles and priorities set out in this letter.”

The letter to Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, EU heads of state and governments and the President of the European Parliament ahead of the Special European Council meeting on 9-10 February, welcomes the recently proposed Green Deal Industrial Plan in the context of the accelerating global race to net zero and the EU’s pioneering strategy of competitive sustainability, and calls on the EU to coordinate its delivery of the Green Deal strategy; demonstrate its ability to rise up to increased international competition from policies like the IRA in the US; and ultimately to ensure Europe leads the way toward global competitive sustainability.

Harry Verhaar, Head of Global Public & Government Affairs, Signify said:

“Businesses committed to net zero sustainability need stable, long-term strategy, targets and policies and public investment to drive market demand and innovation. Now more than ever, energy efficiency must remain the first priority for EU competitive sustainability, requiring a balanced demand and supply side approach.  We believe that a well-designed GDIP can drive consumer as well as industrial demand for it and further accelerate investments in it in Europe and enable companies of all sizes and shapes to further innovate, develop skills and jobs here, and succeed internationally as a result.”

In recognising the EU’s success so far in helping catalyse increased global competition for new opportunities created by the green transition, the signatories also urge the EU to avoid complacency. This includes ensuring the Plan adequately addresses barriers and bottlenecks to scale-up and commercialisation that businesses have repeatedly identified and emphasises the competitive sustainability strategy the EU has successfully pioneered. 

The letter sets out ten clear priority recommendations including:

  • Increased and more accessible EU funding for innovative business, its skills and workforce needs in the European Single Market.
  • Full alignment of increased climate ambition with all other EU policies and finance.
  • Re-enforced collaborative efforts with international partners to establish fair trade rules and deliver high ambition and common sustainability-driven innovation needs.          

Peter Sweatman, Chief Executive of Climate Strategy said:

“Sustainable finance can only be sustained by aligned and ambitious climate policies. The GDIP can level-up the playing field for European innovators, and fill known climate investment gaps, if it comes with a clear and funded EU Climate Investment Plan to match the US Inflation Reduction Act, in simplicity and ease of use for all.” 

The letter also highlights the importance of maintaining and building on the front-runner, single market regulatory design that drives investment toward innovative businesses who are helping decarbonise entire value chains.

Tobias Lechtenfeld, CEO OneFiveVentures and speaking for Tech for Net Zero Alliance signatories said:

"We need smarter market-based instruments focused on new climate tech start-ups. This includes price instruments for making green technologies more affordable, demand incentives to stimulate competition, and loan guarantees to make climate tech projects bankable. And we need much more speed in the public sector -- for approvals, public grants, and the rollout of new instruments. That would help to counter the IRA.”


Zoe Kalus, Head of Media  

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