Sunday

9th Aug 2020

Slovenian coal plant highlights bungled EU policy, say activists

  • Europe hopes to reduce its CO2 emissions by 80-95 percent by the year 2050 (Photo: DerGuy82)

EU funding for a controversial coal-powered energy plant in Slovenia has reignited debate over the EU's Emission Trading System (ETS), with environmental activists saying the case represents an extreme case of EU policy conflict.

Slovenian government plans to replace outdated production units with a new 600 megawatt block at the country's Sostanj energy plant have attracted widespread controversy in recent months, with EU climate-change commissioner Connie Hedegaard set to discuss the issue during a visit to Slovenia on Monday (7 February).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

The commission says the decision to build the energy plant is essentially an internal member-state affair however, but activists say EU loans totaling €750 million for the project threaten to undermine the bloc's CO2 emission targets.

While the new block will see a reduction in emissions per kilowatt-hour for the whole plant, it will also lock Slovenia in to heavy carbon use until 2050, insists Bankwatch, a pressure group that monitors how the European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development disperses funding.

"It is clearly strange how current EU investments undermine long-term climate goals," the group's Piotr Trzaskowski told EUobserver. "Without the low-interest loans, the project would probably not go ahead."

EU leaders meeting in Brussels for an energy summit last Friday reaffirmed their commitment to cutting European CO2 emissions in order to contain global warming to two degrees centigrade on pre-industrial levels, the maximum amount if global warming and its effects are to be contained warn scientists.

"Reaching the EU objective ... of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80-95 percent by 2050 compared to 1990 as agreed in October 2009 will require a revolution in energy systems, which must start now," EU leaders said in the meeting's final conclusions.

Slovenia's government office for climate change acknowledges that, if built, the Sostanj energy plant will likely use up the entirety of Slovenia's permitted emission quota under the 2050 goal.

The commission says it is unfazed, insisting that EIB-funded projects must first pass strict environmental impact assessments. Officials also add that the EU's emission trading scheme will ultimately ensure companies reduce their CO2 production.

Currently struggling after cyber-thieves managed to steal an estimated €30 million in carbon allowances in recent months, the EU has put the cap-and-trade system at the heart of its efforts to fight global warming.

By placing a price on carbon, the system is designed to lower company emissions and promote clean energy over fossil fuel plants such as Sostanj. Brussels wants to see energy companies buy all their permits from 2013 onwards (phase 3), with other heavy industries gradually phased in by 2020.

Environmental NGOs are divided on the subject of the scheme's merits. Some such as Friends of the Earth argue that the ETS is little more than a "distraction" from more necessary actions such as binding energy efficiency targets, energy taxation and funds to help developing countries deal with the effects of global warming.

"Even under the third phase, the EU's ETS won't deliver the emission cuts that scientists say are needed," said campaigner David Heeler.

"The price for carbon is too low under the scheme and international offsetting means European companies can continue to pollute, with no guarantee that global emissions are decreasing overall."

Recovery plan slammed for failing to tackle climate crisis

EU leaders agreed that about a third of the €750bn recovery package and the €1.074 trillion seven-year budget will be invested in projects contributing to climate action. However, environmental activists said that the package falls short on climate safeguards.

EU 'failed to protect bees and pollinators', report finds

EU auditors concluded on Thursday that EU key policies adopted to protect and halt the decline of pollinators across the bloc have been largely inefficient and called on the European Commission to better address this issue.

Regions urge EU to act on 'green hydrogen'

The EU's regions urged the unlocking of the potential of hydrogen produced from renewable sources, so-called 'green hydrogen', to achieve climate neutrality by 2050.

Feature

The 150 random French citizens advising Macron

Some 150 randomly-picked men and women make up Emmanuel Macron's Citizens' Climate Convention. This week Macron invited them to the Élysée Palace and promised - nearly - all of their wishes would come true .

News in Brief

  1. Germany breached rights of Madeleine McCann suspect
  2. EU offers trade perks to Lebanon
  3. Germany charges ex-Audi chiefs on emissions cheating
  4. UK quarantines Belgium, as European infections climb
  5. Bulgaria's Borissov mulls resignation
  6. EU prolongs anti-dumping duties on Chinese steel
  7. Swedish economy contracted less during April to June
  8. EU offers help to Lebanon after port explosion

Feature

The 150 random French citizens advising Macron

Some 150 randomly-picked men and women make up Emmanuel Macron's Citizens' Climate Convention. This week Macron invited them to the Élysée Palace and promised - nearly - all of their wishes would come true .

France shuts oldest reactor amid Macron climate pledges

France's oldest nuclear power plant finally closed on Tuesday, one day after president Emmanuel Macron pledged to speed up the country's transition to a greener economy responding to the proposals from the French citizens' convention on climate.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDANext generation Europe should be green and circular
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNEW REPORT: Eight in ten people are concerned about climate change
  3. UNESDAHow reducing sugar and calories in soft drinks makes the healthier choice the easy choice
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersGreen energy to power Nordic start after Covid-19
  5. European Sustainable Energy WeekThis year’s EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) will be held digitally!
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic states are fighting to protect gender equality during corona crisis

Latest News

  1. EU wary of violence in Belarus election
  2. Iraqis paid €2,000 each agree to leave Greece
  3. EU's most sustainable islands are Danish 'Sunshine Islands'
  4. Worrying rows over future EU chemicals policy
  5. Rainbow flag protesters charged by Polish police
  6. An open letter to the EPP on end of Hungary's press freedom
  7. Renew Europe has a plan to combat gender-violence
  8. Why EU beats US on green pandemic recovery

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us