Industrial Emissions Photo: Dirk Duckhorn

Fossil fuel subsidies ‘derailing’ EU climate plans

September 10th, 2019

The continued use of fossil fuel subsidies are set to “derail” the European Union’s 2030 climate plans, a new report has found.

An analysis of draft National Energy and Climate Plans (NECP) carried out by Overseas Development Institute, Friends of the Earth Netherlands and Climate Action Network Europe found that no governments included comprehensive plans to phase-out fossil fuel subsidies.

The plans are a legal requirement designed to ensure EU member states collectively achieve the bloc’s climate and energy targets for 2030.

According to the report, six states – Bulgaria, Denmark, France, Hungary, the Netherlands, and the UK – claim that they have no fossil fuel subsidies despite the European Commission finding that all EU countries provide some sort of financial support to fossil fuels. 

The report points to several of the NECPs that fail to mention fossil fuel subsidies entirely, while some member states – the UK, Germany, Greece, Poland, and Slovenia – outline plan to introduce new fossil fuel subsidies.

As part of the G20, EU governments committed to ending fossil fuel subsidies back in 2009. Ten years later, however, report author Laurie van der Burg said that “governments continue to provide huge sums of taxpayers’ money to fossil fuels, the single biggest cause of climate change”.

“If EU governments are serious about climate action, they must turn their longstanding commitments to ending fossil fuel subsidies into concrete action plans. This will not only help address climate change but will also free-up scarce resources that can be better spent to build a sustainable future,” she added.

Smoke from chimney Photo: lenalindell20
Smoke from chimney Photo: lenalindell20

In its analysis of Ireland’s own NECP, the report found that fossil fuel subsidies are discussed but without mentioning concrete steps to end them. 

A CSO analysis published earlier this year found that the Government provided over €4 billion in 2016 for subsidies that are potentially damaging to the environment. 

The study found that over €2.5 billion was provided in 2016 in either direct subsidies or revenue foregone due to preferential tax treatment, and a further €1.6 billion supported other potentially environmentally damaging activities. 

Earlier this month, a report from Social Justice Ireland found that Ireland is likely to fail to achieve a Just Transition if the State continues to provide billions in environmentally harmful tax subsidies. 

The report called on the State to stop providing subsidies that may harm the environment and recommended that the support could be reinvested into supporting a Just Transition Fund. 

A report from CAN Europe released in April found that Ireland’s draft plan does not demonstrate high ambition on energy savings and renewable energy and lacks concrete policies and measures for the coming decades.

The European Commission’s 2019 Country Report for Ireland also recently found that our climate plans fall short of the level of ambition required to put Ireland on a path to achieve its 2030 targets.

About the Author

Kayle Crosson

Kayle is a multimedia journalist focused on climate and environmental issues and contributes to The Irish Times and The Green News.

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