Saturday

13th Aug 2022

Recovery plan slammed for failing to tackle climate crisis

  • The Just Transition Fund has been more than halved to €17.5bn - from the €40bn proposed just in May by the EU Commission (Photo: AdamCohn)

EU leaders agreed early on Tuesday (21 July) that around a third of the €750bn coronavirus recovery package and the €1.074 trillion seven-year budget will be invested in projects contributing to climate action.

This could mean nearly €550bn spent on climate initiatives over the next seven years - which is far below €2.4 trillion in low-carbon investment needed to meet EU climate targets.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

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

... or subscribe as a group

For Thomas Pellerin-Carlin from the think tank Jacques Delors Institute, this is a "good deal" for climate - but "the challenge will be to suit the action to the words [and] transform late-night promises into concrete projects that build a clean future: clean start-ups, housing renovation, bike lanes [or] sustainable agriculture".

However, environmental activists say the package falls short on climate safeguards.

"European governments said they would deliver a green recovery plan from the Covid-19 pandemic, but they have cut funding for health, research and climate, and failed to guarantee that public money won't go to polluting industries," said Sebastian Mang from Greenpeace.

Similarly, William Todts from NGO Transport & Environment said that it is difficult to accept "the paradox that something called 'Next Generation EU' invests 70 percent of its funds in an older generation's economy while asking young Europeans to foot the bill".

Moreover, the deal states that the funds should be driven by the Green Deal, a revised EU 2030 emissions reduction target and the EU's 2050 climate-neutrality target.

However, campaigners previously warned that increasing the 2030 emission-reduction target from 40 percent to between 50 and 55 percent is still not aligned with the Paris climate agreement and efforts to limit global heating to 1.5 degrees.

Green groups also called for an exclusion list of activities to ensure that polluting industries do not receive any public money of the €750bn recovery fund under the 'no harm' principle - whereby no spending should be for projects harmful to the environment.

Poland's price

Meanwhile, the EU's flagship fund directed to support regions whose economy is deeply-dependent on fossil fuels, the so-called Just Transition Fund, has been halved to €17.5bn - from the €40bn proposed in May by the European Commission.

And the conditions for receiving the money have been also lowered.

As a result, Poland will have easier access to a much smaller budget for its transition towards climate neutrality - a goal it has not signed up to yet, undermining the credibility of the whole EU.

Additionally, the EU also plans to introduce green taxes to help fill EU coffers, including a tax on non-recycled plastics scheduled for next year and a mechanism to ensure that imports in the EU pay their share of environmental taxes that should be ready by 2023.

The European Parliament will have to approve the overall size of the package in the coming months, although difficult negotiations are expected.

"There are too many things that still need improvements," said Dutch Green MEP Bas Eickhout, adding that "the deal is not over yet".

Green groups demand CAP now aligns with EU Green Deal

Green NGOs urge the EU Commission to align its reform of the Common Agriculture Policy with the ambitions set in the EU Green Deal. The commission wants member states to reach an agreement.

East vs West split in EU on higher Green Deal target

Eight EU countries on Tuesday called on the European Commission to strengthen the Green Deal, while central and eastern Europe remain cautious - citing different starting positions and deepen inequalities.

Opinion

Why EU beats US on green pandemic recovery

The United States recovery focused on a number of important issues, including unemployment benefits and funding for health care providers, but lacked any programs directed towards addressing pollution, renewable energy industries, and clean technology improvements.

Brazil pitches itself as answer to Ukraine war food shortages

Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro is pitching his Latin American country as the answer to the world food crisis following the war in Ukraine. The traditional wheat importer has now exported three million tonnes of the grain so far in 2022.

Opinion

Exploiting the Ukraine crisis for Big Business

From food policy to climate change, corporate lobbyists are exploiting the Ukraine crisis to try to slash legislation that gets in the way of profit. But this is only making things worse.

News in Brief

  1. Germany to help nationals cope with energy price spike
  2. Germany wants pipeline from Portugal
  3. Ukraine urges US to sanction all Russian banks
  4. Spain evacuates 294 Afghans
  5. EU sanctions have 'limited' effect of Russian oil production
  6. Donors pledge €1.5bn to Ukraine's war effort
  7. Sweden overtakes France as EU's top power exporter
  8. Italy's far-right star in European charm offensive

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  3. European Centre for Press and Media FreedomEuropean Anti-SLAPP Conference 2022
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersEmerging journalists from the Nordics and Canada report the facts of the climate crisis
  6. Council of the EUEU: new rules on corporate sustainability reporting

Latest News

  1. Defying Russian bombs, Ukraine football starts 2022 season
  2. Sweden to extradite man wanted by Turkey
  3. EU must beware Beijing's new charm offensive
  4. Forest fire near Bordeaux forces over 10,000 to flee
  5. Estonia and Latvia sever China club ties
  6. Russian coal embargo kicks in, as EU energy bills surge
  7. Only Western unity can stop Iran hostage-diplomacy
  8. Kosovo PM warns of renewed conflict with Serbia

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us