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Coronavirus downturn helps accelerate move to green economy, says the ECB's chief economist

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Coronavirus downturn helps accelerate move to green economy, says the ECB's chief economist
Copyright  Arne Dedert/AP
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A coronavirus second wave is sweeping Europe and economies are being hit again by new lockdown-style measures.

At the same time, Brussels institutions are trying to keep their green priorities alive.

It has raised the question of whether it's a luxury to talk of the EU's Green Deal — a bid to make the continent climate neutral by 2050 — while thousands have lost their jobs.

"I think that there's no conflict," Philip Lane, chief economist at the European Central Bank (ECB) told Euronews. "We do need an acceleration.

"The fact we have this downturn does create some room for accelerating what needed to happen anyway: the green deal and digitisation."

He concedes that with that in mind it is important to make sure that as many firms as possible will be viable.

The ECB has a role to play in supporting the Green Deal and already buys national green bonds aimed at financing climate projects.

Lane explains that the greening of the economy requires a lot of investment, both public and corporate as well as household investment.

"We noticed a lot of homes need to be made more energy-efficient, we know how people travel in terms of transportation will have to change," he said.

All of these changes add up to a big investment programme, he says, adding that the "low-interest-rate environment that we have is very supportive of investment".