EU Commissioner Mairead McGuinness addresses climate change in Henry Grattan Lecture 

Posted on: 24 September 2021

Mairead McGuinness, European Commissioner for Financial Services, Financial Stability and the Capital Markets Union, has delivered the Henry Grattan Lecture at the Irish Embassy in London, stressing the need for long-term thinking to solve the problems of climate change.

An initiative of Trinity’s School of Social Sciences and Philosophy, the Henry Grattan Lecture series has been running since 2013, featuring speakers including former Taoiseach Mr John Bruton, Dr Peter Sutherland, UN Special Representative for International Migration and Dr David O’Sullivan, Ambassador of the European Union to the United States.

Also present at the event on Thursday September 23 were Ambassador to the UK Adrian O’Neill and Trinity Professor in Economics Carol Newman while Trinity’s Provost Dr Linda Doyle joined by video link.

At the embassy were (l to r) Trinity Professor in Economics Carol Newman, EU Commissioner Mairead McGuinness and Ambassador Adrian O’Neill.

In a speech entitled ‘The EU – COVID Impact and Facing up to Climate Change’, Commissioner McGuinness noted that expectations were for faster economic growth and recovery than had been expected several months ago.

The Commissioner noted the strength of the EU’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and expressed confidence in Europe’s ability to get to grips with the challenges of climate change.

One of the things I learned over my 16 years in the European Parliament – and see from a different perspective now in the Commission – is that the European Union does work. Day in, day out. People meet, they talk, they disagree, they reach compromises. It’s about people working together to make a better life for European citizens.

The Commissioner also acknowledged that there would be social costs associated with the move to climate neutrality.

There will be economic and social costs. We cannot get around that. It is a difficult process. The transition to climate neutrality is completely necessary, but it will be difficult – and we need to talk about it.

Commissioner McGuinness outlined the Commission’s workstream on Sustainable Finance aimed at channelling private investment to support the EU’s path towards carbon neutrality.

We are putting forward ambitious policies that facilitate transition finance, make sustainable finance more inclusive, boost the resilience of our markets and have global ambition.

Financing the transition of the real economy towards sustainability is our first objective. We need to provide a framework that will support all sectors as they reduce their negative impact on the climate and environment.

EU Commissioner Mairead McGuinness (r) with Trinity Professor in Economics Carol Newman

The Commissioner also emphasised the need for global co-operation on sustainable finance.

We need a strong international sustainable finance architecture, encompassing robust international governance, a clear rulebook and a monitoring framework.

This means providing the private sector with usable tools and metrics at the global level, such as taxonomies, green standards and labels, and comprehensive disclosures for both businesses and financial market participants.


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