At Boot Düsseldorf, the EU shared with the global boating sector the outlines of its pricey climate change strategy in the decades ahead. It said the magnitude of making the 27-nation EU climate-neutral by 2050 “is something we have not faced before.”

Making Europe “climate-neutral” means no more greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 beyond what can be absorbed, Artur Runge-Metzger, head of climate issues at the European Commission’s environment section, told a breakfast meeting.

The aim is to craft a clean, circular economy, improve biodiversity, cut pollution and enact an EU Climate Law to deliver the world’s first climate-neutral continent by 2050. The first of 50 legislative proposals – for adoption by all EU governments – will be issued in March.

Runge-Metzger stressed “all sectors of the EU economy” must embrace stricter environmental rules and conditions, including the boating sector’s 32,ooo companies that employ 280,000 people.

Jean-Pierre Goudant, president of the Brussels-based European Boating Industry, said his lobby will help the EU craft “the right regulatory and funding framework for sustainability in our industry.”

Yet he cautioned that since “over 97% of the boating companies” are small and mid-sized operators, they are bound to require financial aid so they “can continue to grow and create jobs”.

EU-wide, the climate change reversal strategy will require annual investments of up to 2% of the EU’s GDP over the next 30 years. The EU budget alone will have to make available €500bn over the next decade to trigger private sector investments. The EU stresses climate change is an agent for job creation.

The launch of the climate-change strategy follows a recent finding Europe won’t achieve its 2030 goals without urgent action on “the alarming rate of biodiversity loss, increasing impacts of climate change and overconsumption of natural resources.”

At the breakfast meeting there were heartening presentations of clean boating projects from Slovenia’s GreenLine hybrid yachts and Ibiza-based La Bella Verda’s solar boats

The EU climate change action plan envisages, among other steps:

  • smarter designs, more use of clean energy, more recycling. Today, EU industries only use 12% recycled materials.
  • an EU Climate Law to make the fight against climate change a legal obligation
  • a ‘zero-pollution approach’ in all EU policy areas
  • transporting more cargo over inland waterways