Europe failed to embrace technology that led American companies like Amazon, Facebook and Google to dominate their respective sectors, wrote European Investment Bank President Werner Hoyer in an article for the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting.
Now, Hoyer argued, the world is on the precipice of a new revolution that Europe could lead: fighting climate change.
But Europeans need to become more confident, he warned.
“Europeans are less optimistic than Americans about the role climate action can play in economic growth and job creation,” he wrote, noting that only 21 percent of Europeans believe fighting climate change can produce jobs.
In contrast, 26 percent of Americans expect climate change to benefit the economy. That means they might be more likely to invest and adopt new technology, behaviors and other measures to curb greenhouse gas emissions.
Meanwhile, jobs in renewable energy have increase by 45 percent worldwide compared to a total increase in jobs of only 5 percent.
Europe needs to take advantage of the trend, Hoyer said. “The lesson here is that it is not only for the sake of the climate that we must invest now in renewable energy and energy efficiency,” he wrote. “It is also economically vital for Europe.”
He’s putting his money where his mouth is.
The European Investment Bank is investing $100 billion (€87.5 billion/CHF99.2 billion) in climate action over a five year period ending next year, he said. He hoped it would help spark a renaissance that would reinvigorate Europe’s economy.
“When we back projects, we mitigate the risk for private investors just enough that they feel secure in joining this new wave of green finance,” he said.