European Commission drops demand to cut fossil fuel subsidies

European Commission drops demand to cut fossil fuel subsidies

The European Commission removed calls to end subsides for fossil fuels in its yearly audit of 26 economies, raising questions over its commitment to addressing climate change.

Last year, the EU’s executive arm told Italy to “remove environmentally harmful subsidies” and ordered France and Belgium to “phase out” grants in their extracting of coal, oil and gas.

Eight countries were urged to start taxing pollution, and 17 to boost renewables, electric grids and energy efficiency.

But this year’s ‘country specific recommendations‘ omitted all mention of the polluting subsidies and the environment – save a minor call for Luxembourg to “broaden” its environmental tax base.

The IMF put fossil fuel subsidies at  €79 billion in the EU in 2011.

Retrograde step

“There was a very deliberate decision to leave climate and environment out,” said James Nix, director of Green Budget Europe, a Brussels-based policy advisory. “It’s hard to imagine a more retrograde step in the year of crunch climate talks.”

The European Union has been a standard bearer in UN talks toward a global climate pact to be finalised in Paris in December.

Making up a tenth of world greenhouse gas emissions, it’s leading the pack along with the US in reining in global warming, pledging to slash carbon by 40% from 1990 levels by 2030.

But erasure of subsidies for coal, oil and gas, which in the form of tax breaks and state contributions lead to their increased use ramping up global warming, would run counter to that.

Indeed in 2013 top EU chiefs called on the G20 to ditch them.

Source: Responding ti Climate Change

Date: May 2015

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