Bas Eickhout: linking climate and finance

What he doesn’t want is to sound like another Rudi Carrell, says Bas Eickhout, Vice Chairman of the Greens/EFA in the European Parliament. That’s why the 45-year-old Dutchman doesn’t like to speak German in public, although he knows it a bit, as well as French and Italian, and English, of course.

Hints of this can be found on his Twitter profile, where he sometimes retweets the Deutscher Naturschutzring, sometimes an Italian article, and sometimes a meme poking fun at Macron’s narcissism. “I think that when you make European policy, you should also try to follow the debates in the different countries,” he says.

It was also his ability to think outside the box that brought him to the European Parliament. He moved in for the first time in 2009; before that, the chemist and environmental scientist did research on climate change, but eventually reached the limits. “The big messages around climate change were clear even then. I felt I had to try it from the other side – and that was more on the political level.”

Today, Eickhout is a member of delegations on cooperation with China, the US and the United Kingdom, vice-chairman of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health, and Food Safety (ENVI), and deputy in committees on economic and monetary affairs and budgetary control. Fiscal policy is close to his heart, and he wants to make it more sustainable.

Green investments and unsustainable investments

“We’ve built a fossil fuel economy in 150 years, and now we want to transform the fossil fuel economy into a carbon-neutral economy in 30 years. That’s a big task,” he says. What’s good, he says, is that in the past decade, many have realized that climate affects the stability of the financial system. “All financial players need to look at redirecting financial flows.” This involves private financial flows, he said, but the European Central Bank should also look at it, according to Eickhout. “At all these points, climate and finance are becoming more and more interlinked.”

Investors should not be spared in the process. “We need to take a much more critical look at whether investors who invest a lot in fossil fuels should be more regulated because those investments can do harm.”

That could also affect the taxonomy. “I think at some point we should define not only what is a green investment, but also what is an unsustainable investment.”

That sounds quite diplomatic. For loud sounds, he prefers to sit down at the drums, if he can find the time. When he’s in his office reading texts, he often wears headphones and drums on his desk. Gabriel Bub


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