EU's Juncker proposes billions of spending on climate change after a 16-year-old's speech

Key Points
  • Every fourth euro spent within the EU budget will go towards climate mitigation actions between 2021 and 2027, Jean-Claude Juncker says.
  • His comments came after 16-year-old climate activist Greta Thunberg spoke at the plenary session of the European Economic and Social Committee. 
Greta Thunberg has inspired thousands of young people to protest for action against climate change.
Steffen Trumpf | picture alliance | Getty Images

The President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, said Thursday that a quarter of the European Union's (EU) budget would be spent on tackling climate change.

"In the next financial period, 2021 to 2027, every fourth euro spent within the EU budget will go towards climate mitigation actions," Juncker said.

"That is our goal, to ensure that a fourth of the budget goes towards climate change mitigation, and this is going to be a paradigm shift," he added.

The EU budget is usually one percent of its economic output, or 1 trillion euros ($1.13 trillion) across seven years, according to Reuters.

Juncker's comments came after Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old climate activist from Sweden, spoke at the same plenary session of the European Economic and Social Committee in Brussels.

"We know that most politicians don't want to talk to us," she said. "Good. We don't want to talk to them either," she added. "We want them to talk to the scientists instead. Listen to them, because we are just repeating what they are saying, and have been saying, for decades."

Since starting a protest outside the Swedish parliament in 2018 Thunberg has risen to global prominence, becoming the figurehead for a series of school strikes by children around the world.

"I'm glad to see that young people are taking to the streets in Europe to create visibility for the issue of climate change," Juncker said. "Because mitigating climate change is not just the job of young people but in fact for older people, if only they were to take up the task."