New EU mechanism to help workers and regions make fossil free shift is not enough

14 January 2020

EU launches 'just transition mechanism'

The European Commission has launched proposals for a package to help workers and communities make the shift to fossil free societies – a policy Friends of the Earth Europe and unions have for years demanded. The proposal is part of the EU Green Deal, unveiled in December 2019.

However, €7.5 billion public funding for the ‘just transition fund’ is too little to match the scale of transformation needed to confront the planetary emergency.

The ‘just transition fund’ will help alleviate the social and economic costs of the climate transition and it has a comprehensive list of criteria to exclude funding of fossil fuel production, distribution, storage and combustion. However, Friends of the Earth Europe demands that this list be extended to the wider ‘just transition mechanism’ announced today, and to the entire EU budget.

Jagoda Munić, Director, Friends of the Earth Europe, said:

“This is vital support the European Commission is giving today to help communities and workers to adapt to the changes brought by the shift to sustainable fossil-free societies.

“But the EU must go far further and faster – increase tenfold the support for communities and workers to transition, only direct the funds to countries doing their fair share of climate action, and fully exclude all fossil fuels from the entire EU budget and private financing being mobilised.

“Europe cannot confront the climate emergency unless our fossil free transition lifts up the poorest areas and provides alternative economic opportunities for regions dependent on the fossil fuel industry.”

The InvestEU package is one of three pillars in the Just Transition Mechanism, but contains loopholes that would enable massive investment in climate damaging gas infrastructure in district heating. The European Investment Bank (EIB) forms a third pillar and includes a gap of 2 years before new investments in fossil gas infrastructure would be halted. Moreover, the InvestEU mechanism would allow investment in unsustainable waste incineration projects.