Climate Defenders or Dinosaurs in Disguise?

Climate action

Media briefing on the Commissioner candidates’ tasks and views on climate

The hearings of Commissioner candidates in front of the European Parliament from 30 September to 8 October will test the climate credentials of the new Commission.

Looking for benchmarks for how to assess statements of the Commissioner candidates related to climate? Or for information on their past, climate-related experience? – read the full media briefing on 17 key Commissioner candidates here

Commission President-elect, Ursula von der Leyen has put climate policy upfront as a top priority of the new Commission, pledging to present a European Green Deal in the first 100 days of her mandate and giving greater power to Frans Timmermans who, as the first Vice-President for the European Green Deal and as Climate Commissioner will oversee many other portfolios.

However, many of the initiatives which were included in her European Green Deal contain a lot of ambiguity. It will depend on all new Commissioners whether Von der Leyen’s promises are translated into concrete policies and measures which will scale up climate action in line with the objective to limit temperature rise to 1.5C. Worryingly, many of the proposed Commissioners, including those in the European Green Deal team, do not have a strong track record on protecting the climate (see the full briefing for details).

Wendel Trio, Director of Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe said:

“Climate is not just an environmental problem, but concerns the whole economy and thus the whole Commission. The promises of the European Green Deal could become nothing more than an empty shell, unless all Commissioners recognise their responsibility for tackling the climate crisis and make ambitious commitments on climate action. Several of the Commissioner candidates have only recently changed their rhetoric in favour of more climate action. They still need to prove that they are real climate defenders, and not dinosaurs in disguise.”

To make the European Green Deal meaningful, each future Commissioner needs to support an increase of the EU’s climate targets by early 2020; to be in line with the 1.5C goal, the targets should be raised to 65% emission cuts by 2030 and net zero emissions by 2040. The increase should be followed by a revision of all legislation. The Commission needs to make sure all sectors contribute to achieving these goals through a whole array of climate-related measures.


Ania Drazkiewicz, CAN Europe Head of Communications,, +32 494 525 738

[1] Full media briefing“Climate Defenders or Dinosaurs in Disguise? on the Commissioner candidates climate tasks and views here

[2] CAN Europe also developed its proposals for what should be in the Commission’s Green Deal. Read our Climate Urgency Plan for the EU here

Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe is Europe’s leading NGO coalition fighting dangerous climate change. With over 160 member organisations from 35 European countries, representing over 1.700 NGOs and more than 47 million citizens, CAN Europe promotes sustainable climate, energy and development policies throughout Europe.


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