The Danish pension sector praised plans laid out by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in yesterday’s annual EU State of the Union speech, but called for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to be cut still more rapidly.

IPD, the pensions and insurance industry association, said: “We are looking towards a more digital Europe with CO2 reduction high on the agenda.”

In her wide-ranging address to the European Parliament in Brussels outlining action the Commission intends to take in the next year, von der Leyen said yesterday that the Commission was proposing to increase the 2030 target for GHG emission reduction to at least 55%.

“I recognise that this increase from 40% to 55% is too much for some, and not enough for others,” she said.

IPD said that while this was an upgrade compared to previous targets it was still some distance from the Danish climate target.

Kent Damsgaard, IPD CEO said: “Ursula Von der Leyen calls this an ambitious goal for Europe, but we would like the EU to get closer to the Danish goal of 70%.”

He said the Danish insurance and pensions industry had, among other things, given an investment commitment of DKK350bn (€47bn) to the green transition up to 2030.

“Our contribution in the climate area is a high priority throughout the industry,” Damsgaard said, adding that the sector would also follow the Commission’s green bonds work with interest.

Von der Leyen announced that the Commission was setting a target of 30% of the EU’s €750bn COVID-19 recovery plan, NextGenerationEU, to be raised through green bonds.

She also said that 37% of NextGenerationEU would be spent directly on the Commission’s “European Green Deal” environmental objectives.

In her speech in Brussels, von der Leyen mentioned that the previous day she had received a letter from 170 business leaders and investors calling on Europe to set a 2030 emissions cut target of at least 55%.

This letter was signed by several Nordic pension funds including Folksam, PKA and PensionDanmark, and on top of the emissions target, it also called for an “ambitious implementation” of the EU recovery package focused on achieving a green and digital transition.

In other remarks about the EU plans that were unveiled yesterday, IPD’s Damsgaard also said his association saw great prospects in the Commission’s focus on creating a real computer economy in what von der Leyen called “Europe’s digital decade”.

The insurance and pension industry saw industrial data as an important resource, he said.

“But if the potential is to be realised, the EU must also be able to deliver on its promises and ensure good framework conditions for data use, artificial intelligence and create a digital infrastructure that enables the development of new products and services,” he said.

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