Europe’s clean energy transition is being hindered as billions of Euros destined for energy projects in Eastern and Central countries continue to prop up the region’s dirty infrastructure.
EU leaders have repeatedly vowed to phase out fossil fuel subsidies, yet new research from Friends of the Earth Europe and CEE Bankwatch Network shows that just seven per cent of the €178 billion set-aside for infrastructure development is being invested in renewables, energy efficiency and SMART grids, with funds instead entrenching countries’ dependence on fossil fuels.
Meanwhile, the integration of climate considerations – as required under EU law – remains superficial with some of the biggest receivers of funds, for example Poland, continuing to flout EU rules in a bid to pursue economically and environmentally disastrous fossil fuel infrastructure.
As the European Union takes stock of what the Paris climate agreement means for its climate and energy future, pressure is on it to live up to its ambitious promises delivered in the French capital and walk the talk on climate action. First step, says the report, paying closer attention to how it spends its money, and ensuring all EU-funded projects are in line with a fossil free future.
- Funding fossil fuels is inconceivable in a post-Paris Europe. As government pledges to end the fossil fuel era are translated into “implementation and action,” increasing renewables is the best hope of putting the “Paris climate goals within reach.” The faster Europe ends its association with dirty energy and phases out subsidies, the sooner it can embrace a fully renewable future.
- Smart money is already moving to renewables. With clean energy booming, and its market share bounding upwards, investors are fleeing from fossil fuels and moving their money into renewables. This leaves those companies and governments continuing to cling to fossil fuels facing the consequences of their dirty choices and the damage they inflict on economies and communities.
- The clean energy transition is in the EU’s grasp, but ambitious and steady policy is crucial. Once the front-runner on clean energy, the EU is risking locking itself into a dirty energy future unless strong climate and energy policies are put in place, and that EU funds contribute to its energy transition in a meaningful way. Failing to do so will leave the EU behind the rest of the world and missing out on huge clean energy investments, which would help ensure a happier, healthier and wealthier Europe.