European Union urged to stop pumping public money into fossil fuels

5 May 2009

European Parliament should vote against 2.5 billion of recovery plan

Brussels, 5 May, 2009 – Billions of Euros of taxpayers' money is being pumped into the fossil fuel industry, shows new research released today by Friends of the Earth Europe which is calling for all public subsidies to oil and gas companies to be stopped.

Six billion Euros of public money has been given to fossil fuel companies over the last five years [1] the report shows, and the European Parliament will tomorrow (Wednesday May 6) vote on plans to hand over another 2.5 billion Euros as part of Europe's economic recovery plan [2]. As the Parliament adopted a resolution in November 2007 to stop all public funding for fossil fuel projects [3], these funds should instead be used for the development of renewable energy sources says Friends of the Earth.

Friends of the Earth Europe's extractive industries campaigner Darek Urbaniak said: "It is hugely hypocritical for the European Union to claim it is tackling climate change and at the same time be handing over public funds to fossil fuel companies which are causing the problem. The fossil fuel industry is now asking for more taxpayers' money on top of the billions it has already received. In a time of economic downturn it is ludicrous that one of the richest industrial sectors can receive public money to allow it to go on polluting."

If approved by MEPs in one of the last votes before Europe-wide elections in June, proposals to subsidise Europe's energy sector would see more public money given to oil and gas companies, primarily for gas projects and carbon capture and storage (CCS). This unproven technology, which aims to capture carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels and dump it underground has yet to prove viable for addressing rising emissions and diverts resources from the development of renewable energy.

Friends of the Earth International corporate campaigner Paul De Clerck said: "Oil and gas companies should not receive taxpayers' money to use for unproven technology such as CCS while they continue to make billions of Euros of profits each year and invest their own capital in dirty projects like oil sands that produce three times more emissions than conventional oil [4]. These projects will not stimulate growth in the economy and are not the solutions we need to the climate crisis or the economic crisis."

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NOTES:
[1] Friends of the Earth Europe's report 'Public money for fossil fuels in the EU and in three EU member states' is available here

[2] Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and the Council establishing a programme to aid economic recovery by granting Community financial assistance to projects in the field of energy, see uploaded documents.

[3] European Parliament resolution of 29 November 2007 on trade and climate change (2007/2003(INI)): http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=TA&reference=P6-TA-2007-0576&language=EN&ring=A6-2007-0409

[4] Pembina Institute Canada, 'Oil Sands Fever': http://www.oilsandswatch.org/pub/203