'No climate paradise on industrial wasteland': Belgian PM De Croo gives speech at COP28

'No climate paradise on industrial wasteland': Belgian PM De Croo gives speech at COP28
Credit: Belga

In the transition to a green economy, it is not either ecology or economy: both must go hand in hand, said Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo during his speech at the climate conference in Dubai (COP28) ahead of Belgium's European Presidency set to start in January.

While last year's speech angered Belgium's climate activists, he now wants to include everyone in the shift to more green energy: all economic sectors, all walks of life, as well as all countries.

"It is time to turn our words and promises into action. It is time to talk about solutions instead of problems. To talk about hope instead of fear," De Croo started his speech. "The climate problem does not belong to the climate deniers, but not to the alarmists either. It belongs to those who get up early and roll up their sleeves."

De Croo stressed that hope should be cherished, as the means to de-mine the climate crisis already exist, such as current innovations and the assets Belgium can offer internationally. "We need both ecology and economy. They are often played off against each other, when in fact they should reinforce each other. We are not going to build a climate paradise on an industrial wasteland."

Solutions in front of us

During the Belgian presidency of the EU Council from January to June, De Croo promised to work hard on the green change, calling it "his priority." By 2030, the EU wants to go to three times more renewable energy and twice as much energy efficiency.

However, Europe is not going to win the climate race alone, he added. International partnerships are needed. "Partnerships are crucial, especially with Africa holding 40% of the global solar potential," he said. As Kenyan President Ruto said, Africa can become the green engine of the world."

De Croo also pointed to Belgium's partnerships with Namibia, Morocco and Egypt for wind, solar and hydrogen energy.

Unlike the Netherlands and Germany, however, he did not announce additional monetary money support for the newly established climate damage fund. De Croo did, however, point to the €150 million that is being invested in a variety of projects.

"In the Sahel region, we are setting up a €50 million programme over five years to strengthen the Great Green Wall," he said. That initiative aims to combat desertification in Africa by planting a large broad band of forests.

"We can meet the goals of the Paris climate agreement. The solutions are in front of us, but we have to scale them up," De Croo concluded. "It should be done. And it can be done."

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