Ladies and gentlemen: more and more countries are committed to a healthier, resilient, climate-neutral world. I am proud to say that Europe is the frontrunner in the ‘race to zero'.
We have raised our climate targets significantly, including with the European Green Deal i. Next week, we will take this ambition one step further when we present the Fit for 55 package.
Meeting these ambitious targets will not be cheap.
It will require massive investment.
Over this decade, we estimate that Europe will need around €350 billion euros of annual extra investment to meet its 2030 emissions target in energy systems alone.
This is in addition to around €130 billion it will need for other environmental goals.
We have known for a long time that public money will not be enough. And we have to rely on the private sector.
This is why sustainable finance is so important: to generate investment at the scale needed.
Over the years, we have already achieved a lot in sustainable finance.
We have been successful in creating long-term signals to guide financial and capital flows to green investment and to manage the risks that climate change and environmental degradation pose to the financial sector.
Now we need to go further still.
Sustainability is at the heart of our recovery plan: the green transition will be a major source of future economic growth.
This is why we want to focus on recognising transition efforts, and on how to finance them.
Today, we are building on the progress made so far.
Firstly, we are proposing an EU green bond standard, fully aligned with our taxonomy classification system.
This will help to fight greenwashing, recognise bonds that truly represent a sustainable investment and ensure the integrity of this market.
All issuers, in Europe and outside, will be able to use this voluntarily to help attract sustainable investments.
Green bonds have become increasingly popular worldwide. Demand now outstrips supply and many companies and governments want to issue climate and environment-friendly debt.
These bonds are used to raise financing in sectors such as energy production and distribution, resource-efficient housing, or low-carbon transport infrastructure.
Then, we are presenting an updated sustainable finance strategy to address the challenges arising from the extra investment needed to meet our more ambitious targets, as well as the new global context.
Mairead will go into the strategy in more detail.
Let me just highlight some points.
The strategy examines how to create sustainable funding opportunities for smaller businesses.
This is where the EU's sustainable finance agenda and Capital Markets Union can strengthen each other. Together, they can provide SMEs with more financing opportunities, and encourage greater retail investor participation in capital markets.
So, we need a Green Capital Markets Union.
Individuals and households can also play an important role in transforming the economy by accessing sustainable finance.
To encourage green retail lending, the Commission will ask the European Banking Authority for its views on best ways to press ahead with green retail loans and green mortgages. We will also examine how to promote more use of energy-efficient mortgages in the upcoming review of EU mortgage credit rules.
The taxonomy system will play a major role too.
We will continue to develop it, to make sure that it works for companies and sectors that are already green and also for those wanting to transition to green.
Today, the Commission adopted a Delegated Act that requires large financial and non-financial companies to provide information to investors about the environmental performance of their assets and economic activities aligned with the EU taxonomy system.
This will again help to prevent greenwashing.
Lastly, a few words on the international dimension.
Today's strategy goes beyond Europe.
The global community still needs to push forward with sustainable finance to tackle what is a global challenge.
The pandemic has also shown the importance of the world working together to address the climate crisis and other challenges such as biodiversity loss, and to invest smartly.
Global cooperation on sustainable finance is improving and the international context has changed - especially with the pandemic.
While Europe opened the way on sustainable finance, many others are now following.
On this global issue, it is important that we keep working with all like-minded partners to deepen our cooperation. The International Platform on Sustainable Finance is a good example.
We set this up for our partners to work together with us on a green global financial system, and on areas such as taxonomy and company disclosures on sustainable activities.
Thank you and I now pass the floor to Mairead.