MEP vote on EU budget is test of climate commitment

10 July 2012

A European Parliament committee vote tomorrow (Wednesday July 11), with a major bearing on EU budget spending for the 2014-2020 period, must reject the re-classification of fossil fuels as 'low-carbon', urged environmental groups today.

Failure to do so would permit these drivers of climate change to be awarded potentially billions of euros of EU taxpayers' money intended solely for energy efficiency and renewable energy, say CEE Bankwatch Network and Friends of the Earth Europe.

Markus Trilling, EU Funds coordinator for CEE Bankwatch Network and Friends of the Earth Europe, said: "Any inclusion of fossil fuels within EU funding streams specifically dedicated to combat climate change would make a mockery of the European Parliament's pro-climate aspirations. If EU taxpayer support for fossil fuels is granted now it will lock us in to dirty energy dependence for decades beyond 2020."

Wednesday's voting in the regional development committee of the European Parliament will focus on a new set of regulations that will govern the EU Cohesion Policy funds for the 2014-2020 budgetary period. The vote is regarded as having a strong bearing on final budget 2014-2020 decisions scheduled for the end of the year. The run-up to the vote has seen more than 3,000 amendments tabled – from all parties – to a draft text published last year by the European Commission.

The Commission's proposals among other things earmarked an improved EUR 17 billion for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects in the 2014-2020 period.

Yet this has been undermined by a proposal – to be voted on tomorrow – from Polish MEP Jan Olbrycht to include oil and gas transit and storage infrastructure among the investments to be financed with funds specifically earmarked for low-carbon measures under the European Reconstruction and Development Fund, part of the Cohesion Funds. (1)

Markus Trilling commented: "Tomorrow's vote will give an important sense of how committed MEPs are to ensuring that these funds contribute to EU environmental targets, the creation of green jobs and enhanced economic opportunities.

"If MEPs decide to lump fossil fuels into the same 'climate-friendly' category as energy efficiency and renewables they would deliver a stunning coup for the multi-billion profit-making oil and gas companies. At the same time they would be serving up another slap in the face to EU taxpayers and setting in train a disaster for future generations."

Notes for editors:

1. More background on Jan Olbrycht's proposal and its significance for the decision-making process over the next EU budget is available at: http://bankwatch.org/news-media/blog/fossil-fuels-rebranded-low-carbon-also-cohesion-policy-discussions