Wednesday

8th Feb 2023

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Slovenian government plans to replace outdated production units with a new 600 megawatt block at the country's Sostanj energy plant have attracted widespread controversy in recent months, with EU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

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

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."

MEPs to vote on risky 'hydrogen for home heating' rule

The gas-boiler industry is pushing for hydrogen to be allowed to heat homes — but as well as being riskier for explosions and exacerbating asthma, experts dub domestic hydrogen 'a dangerous distraction'.

Hawkish ECB rate-rise 'puts energy transition at risk'

The European Central Bank raised interest rates by another 0.5 percent to a 14-year high, and expects to hike rates by another half percent in March. But what does that mean for the green transition?

Polish backpedal on windfarms put EU funds at risk

Draft legislation in Poland aimed at relaxing some of Europe's strictest laws surrounding onshore wind-turbines has been derailed by a surprise last minute amendment, which could put Poland back on a collision course with the EU.

Opinion

The return of Lula means now is the time for EU-Mercosur deal

The EU must realise the need for a trade agreement with Mercosur. The timing has never been better. The recent election of the president of Brazil, Lula da Silva, marks a fresh start to move forward on the Mercosur Agreement.

Latest News

  1. Polish MEP also went on freelance Azerbaijan trip
  2. Why Europe's interminable compromises are a virtue
  3. Wales' message to Europe: 'We'll be back'
  4. MEPs to vote on risky 'hydrogen for home heating' rule
  5. The man who won't stop filing info requests until every EU doc is public
  6. EU hands Libya coast guard boats ahead of migration summit
  7. Eleven suicides daily — Spain's not-so-silent pandemic
  8. The return of Lula means now is the time for EU-Mercosur deal

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EFBWWEU Social Dialogue review – publication of the European Commission package and joint statement of ETUFs
  2. Oxfam InternationalPan Africa Program Progress Report 2022 - Post Covid and Beyond
  3. WWFWWF Living Planet Report
  4. EFBWWEFBWW Executive Committee report on major abuses, labour crime and subcontracting
  5. European Parliamentary Forum for Sexual & Reproductive Rights (EPF)Launch of the EPF Contraception Policy Atlas Europe 2023. 8th February. Register now.
  6. Europan Patent OfficeHydrogen patents for a clean energy future: A global trend analysis of innovation along hydrogen value chains

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Forum EuropeConnecting the World from the Skies calls for global cooperation in NTN rollout
  2. European Committee of the RegionsRe-Watch EURegions Week 2022
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP27: Food systems transformation for climate action
  4. Friedrich Naumann Foundation European DialogueGender x Geopolitics: Shaping an Inclusive Foreign Security Policy for Europe
  5. Obama FoundationThe Obama Foundation Opens Applications for its Leaders Program in Europe
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersLarge Nordic youth delegation at COP15 biodiversity summit in Montreal

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us