European Commission Photo: Jai79/Pixabay

EU must use “full potential” of recovery fund for climate action

21 July 2020

EU leaders must use the “full potential” of the bloc-wide recovery funds to boost climate action, a regional environmental coalition has said. 

Reacting to the €750 billion COVID-19 recovery package announced by the European Council today, Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe welcomed some of the ‘green’ elements of the proposal. 

These included the upping of the climate action spending target to 30 per cent of total available funds and a bloc-wide commitment to achieve a new ramped up climate target for the end of the decade. 

The “ambitious decision” to tie recovery funds with climate commitments must now, “trickle down to the Member States’ spending plans”, according to finance and subsidies policy coordinator for CAN Europe Markus Trilling. 

“What leaders will put in their plans will define the EU’s response to both the climate and economic crises in the next 10 years. Now, EU leaders must use the full potential of EU funds to boost climate action and exclude support to fossil fuels,” Mr Trilling said. 

However, the organisation goes on to note, the new legislation has yet to specify how these funds would contribute towards the new spending target and warns that fossil fuel subsidies are still permissible under the current framework. 

In the breakdown of Next Generation EU (NGEU) spending, the to-be-established Just Transition Fund also took a significant funding cut, down to €10 billion from its original earmarked €40 billion by the European Commission. 

Greta THUNBERG, Swedish climate activist Photo: European Union / DAINA LE LARDIC
Greta THUNBERG, Swedish climate activist Photo: European Union / DAINA LE LARDIC

The climate crisis “has still not once been treated as a crisis” 

Teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg was critical of the plan speaking to the Guardian, and said the package did not go far enough in addressing the challenge at hand. 

“They are still denying the fact and ignoring the fact that we are facing a climate emergency, and the climate crisis has still not once been treated as a crisis,” she told the Guardian.

Just last week Thunberg criticised the bloc’s climate response in a letter penned in collaboration with other climate activists, calling a net zero emissions target for 2050, “surrender”. 

In particular, the authors referred to the “Next Generation EU” investment programme as a “betrayal to all next generations”, as they said it continued to “ignore the climate crisis and the full scientific picture”. 

As of this afternoon, the letter had accumulated almost 80,000 signatures and was sent to the heads of state of every European Union country.