For Immediate Release
Brussels, Belgium - 11 September 2014
The Green 10, the alliance of leading environmental NGOs at EU level, supported by over 20 million EU citizens and active in all 28 Member States, wrote today an open letter to President Jean-Claude Juncker to express grave concerns over the direction the EU seems to be taking with the announcement of his new team.
The coalition highlights that the structure of the new Commission, the mission letters, and the choice of Commissioners all reveal a serious downgrading of environment and a roll back of EU commitments to sustainable development, resource efficiency, air quality, biodiversity protection and climate action.
In particular the Green10 are concerned that:
• The move from a Commissioner with dedicated responsibilities for environment to having this policy area shared with other demanding dossiers represents a clear relegation of environmental issues in the order of political priorities. This is reinforced by the virtual lack of any reference to environment in the responsibilities of the Vice-Presidents.
• The mandate to the Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Commissioner seems entirely centered on deregulation, asking a review of all current major initiatives underway. It does not mention the need to achieve any EU objectives, let alone take new initiatives.
• The inclusion in the mandate of orders to consider changing the EU Nature protection legislation, pre-empting the results of the ongoing fitness check, suggests a high level decision to weaken biodiversity protection in the EU. This is even more troubling as the Environment portfolio is given to a Commissioner whose government is under intense international criticism for failing to implement EU bird conservation legislation, which the Commissioner will now be in position to amend.
• The merging of the climate and energy portfolios and putting this Commissioner under a Vice President for Energy Union could imply that Climate Action is considered subordinate to energy market considerations.
• The choice of a Climate and Energy Commissioner with well-known links to the fossil fuel industry raises issues of conflict of interest.
• The shift of the responsibility for relations with the European Chemicals Agency, whose job is to protect European citizens from harmful chemicals, from DG Environment to DG Enterprise shows a clear bias towards prioritizing business interests over protection of human health and the environment and flies in the face of the objectives of the REACH Regulation.
• The fact that sustainable development, resource efficiency and the green economy are not covered at all at Vice-President level implies a Commission that will be operating on the basis of an outdated paradigm of economic growth, one that benefits the industries and jobs of the past over those of the future, and detached from real world constraints and limits.
• Your promise not to authorize any legislative initiative that is not in line with your priorities, combined with the virtual absence of any environmental priorities, suggests a de-facto shut down of EU environmental policy making.
Here attached the full text of the letter
Brussels, 23 July
Today the European Commission is expected to publish a proposal for a 2030 energy savings target, completing the initial climate and energy proposal released in January of 2014. The proposal comes after much speculation that a target as low as 27% will be proposed, an effective slowing down of action up to 2030 . CAN Europe will be extremely disconcerted if the Commission presents a target below 40%, let alone below the inadequate 30% level that some are predicting.
Dora Petroula, Energy Savings Policy Officer at CAN Europe said:
"It would be utter madness for the European Commission to set an energy savings target that conflicts with its own analysis, which shows higher ambition, such as a 40% target, will bring greater benefits for EU countries."
"The European Commission needs to align their actions with their words. They keep celebrating energy efficiency as a key solution to EU climate and energy concerns, but they are also considering a 2030 target that will slow down the current trends in energy savings after 2020."
The Commission's own analysis  shows that higher ambition brings greater benefits such as significant greenhouse gas emission reductions and lower levels of gas imports.
A decision is expected this October in Brussels, when heads of state and government will meet at the EU Council to decide on all 3 elements of the post-2020 climate and energy framework. CAN Europe is calling for three ambitious and binding targets of at least 55% greenhouse gas emission reductions, 45% renewable energy deployment and 40% energy savings.
The Commission's Press Conference on the Energy Efficiency Communication will begin at 12.15 (CEST) and can be streamed via the following link: http://ec.europa.eu/avservices/ebs/schedule.cfm?sitelang=en&page=1&institution=0&date=07/23/2014
 The Commission's proposal is supposed to complete its 2030 climate and energy policy framework proposal launched in January 2014, which presented targets for greenhouse gas emissions reductions and the share of renewable energy.
 An earlier version of the Commission's Communication says that Europe is set to achieve energy savings of 170Mtoe during the current decade in order to achieve its 20% target in 2020, and that saving an equivalent amount of energy during the next decade would lead to 30% energy savings in 2030 compared to the 2007 projections. http://www.changepartnership.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/EC-2014-Energy-Efficiency-Review-v12.pdf
In a report released this week  at a high level meeting of the Energy Community , CAN Europe and other NGOs  called for more transparency, a level playing field for energy investments and decent environmental standards in Southeast Europe. The report represents the agreed position of the NGOs towards the Energy Community.
The Energy Community has recently made significant efforts to include the views of NGOs and foster greater public participation in the functioning of the Treaty, including giving NGOs this first chance to present a report at a High Level Group Meeting.
 Smolak M. et al., “Recommendations Regarding the Reform of Energy Community Treaty,” June 2014. http://seechangenetwork.org/images/publications/recommendations%20regarding%20the%20reform%20of%20energy%20community%20treaty.pdf
 The Energy Community is an international organisation dealing with energy policy. It was founded in 2006 with the aim of extending the EU internal energy policy to the South East Europe and Black Sea region in the context of a legally binding framework. In addition to the EU, the Energy Community members are the countries of the Western Balkans, Moldova and Ukraine, with Armenia, Norway and Turkey having observer status. http://www.energy-community.org/portal/page/portal/ENC_HOME/MEMBERS
 Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe is Europe's largest coalition working on climate and energy issues. With over 120 member organisations in more than 25 European countries, CAN Europe works to prevent dangerous climate change and promote sustainable energy and environment policy in Europe. In addition to CAN Europe, the report released this week was supported by Client Earth, HEAL, CEE Bankwatch, WWF MedPo and regional NGOs including SEE Change Net, Front 21/42 and others.
[Brussels, 28 May 2014 - For immediate release] – Over 70 MEPs from 25 EU countries across almost all political groups have indicated their readiness to take a leadership role in the climate debate in the European Parliament. These forward-thinking MEPs all signed CAN Europe's Climate Pledge and were elected or re-elected to the European Parliament this week.  By signing our Climate Pledge, they have committed to tackling climate change during their terms of office and ushering in the economic, health and energy security benefits this action would bring.
"We are pleased to see that there is a significant number of MEPs who will work to keep climate change at the heart of the European agenda," said Wendel Trio of CAN Europe "It is now critical that the European Parliament gets quickly up to speed on the work the EU must do before a global climate agreement can be signed in 2015."
Earlier this year, the European Parliament proved itself once again to have more climate ambition than its counterpart, the European Commission, by voting for three binding climate targets for greenhouse gas emission reductions, energy efficiency and renewables. As elected officials, MEPs listened to their constituencies, the majority of whom resoundingly called for increased climate action in Europe.  CAN Europe will work closely with MEPs during the coming term to ensure that the Parliament's more progressive stance on climate change is maintained.
The growth of the EU skeptic parties in this election will not necessarily adversely affect EU climate policy. CAN Europe's analysis of the votes on crucial climate and energy issues of the last five years shows that many of the existing skeptics do not participate in votes , leaving us with the same challenge as ever: motivating 'climate friendly' MEPs in all parties to support adequate climate legislation.
 Based on data available on 28 May 2014, 70 MEPs who signed CAN Europe's climate pledge had been re-elected to Parliament. Over 450 MEP candidates representing the five biggest political groups in the European Parliament signed the pledge. See interactive EU map here: http://caneurope.org/voteforclimateaction/index.php?gktab=4#pledgemap
 A recent Eurobarometer survey shows 9 out of 10 Europeans recognize climate change as a "very serious" or "serious" threat and that 4 out of 5 agree that fighting climate change can boost the economy and jobs in Europe. http://ec.europa.eu/clima/citizens/support/docs/report_2014_en.pdf
 This analysis is available in CAN Europe's Climate Scorecards: http://caneurope.org/voteforclimateaction/index.php?gktab=3
With less than two weeks to go until EU citizens elect a new European Parliament, 277 MEP candidates have declared their support for urgent action on climate and energy through signing CAN Europe's Climate Pledge. Candidates from all of the big five European political groups have pledged their support for urgent action on climate and energy . The signed up candidates, coming from 24 out of the 28 member states, have committed to taking immediate action on climate change should they be elected for the new term .
Wendel Trio, Director of CAN Europe said: "In signing the Climate Pledge, candidates have publically recognised the urgency of dealing with the climate and energy crisis, and have given their personal commitment to taking the political action required."
The Climate Pledge calls for candidates to recognise the cost of climate change for European and its people in terms of health, jobs and energy security. It also calls for recognition of the growing impacts of climate change in developing countries where support for climate action is essential. If elected, candidates have agreed to support the creation of a clear roadmap towards decarbonising Europe through taking specific actions .
Wendel Trio added: "Returning and new MEPs will need to work from day one to ensure ambitious and binding post-2020 greenhouse gas, renewable energy and energy efficiency targets are delivered."
The European elections will take place from 22-25 May, and will result in 751 MEPs being elected to represent more than 500 million European citizens in 28 member states.
 The five biggest political groups are the: European People's Party (EPP), Socialists and Democrats (S&D), Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE), Greens/European Free Alliance (Greens/EFA), Confederal Group of the European United Left/Nordic Green Left (GUE).
 Currently, no candidates from Cyprus, Latvia, Portugal or Romania have signed. See our interactive map for full details: http://caneurope.org/voteforclimateaction/index.php?gktab=4
 The actions include: supporting the organisation of an urgency debate on climate action at the start of the European Parliament's activities, making support for adequate climate change action a prerequisite for supporting nominations of any new member of the European Commission and supporting the adoption by the European Parliament of a position that addresses the urgent need for stronger climate action in the EU. This position will support a post-2020 climate and energy policy framework that includes ambitious and binding targets on the following: greenhouse gas emission reductions, renewable energy and energy efficiency. Read the full pledge text here: http://caneurope.org/voteforclimateaction/index.php?gktab=4
Follow the Vote For Climate Action campaign via @CANEurope and the hashtag #ClimatePledge.
Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe is Europe's largest coalition working on climate and energy issues. With over 120 member organisations in more than 25 European countries, CAN Europe works to prevent dangerous climate change and promote sustainable climate and energy policy in Europe.
[Brussels, 14th April 2014] The European Commission (EC)'s February decision to allow Polish state owned energy company PGE to continue operating two outdated production units at Belchatow, Europe's largest coal power plant and biggest CO2 emitter, is being challenged by NGOs. According to a letter two groups sent recently to the EC (1), the Commission's decision ignores a previous agreement the plant operator made with lenders to shut down two units by the end of 2015.
The operator BOT Elektrownia Belchatow SA, which was taken over by state-owned Polska Grupa Energetyczna (PGE) in 2007, agreed to close down units 1 and 2 of the Belchatow plant in central Poland under the terms of an agreement with a consortium of international financial institutions, led by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), that were financing the modernisation of part of the plant (2).
"The operator of Belchatow promised to shut-down the plant's two oldest units by the end of 2015 in exchange for a huge cash injection to fund the replacement of a different unit," said Christian Schaible from the European Environmental Bureau (EEB). "It is not only environmentally reckless to consider further exemptions for these oldest units, but it is also blatant cheating."
According to the EBRD website the loan was given on the basis of "[...]significant environmental benefits as the new [unit] will [...] replace older polluting generating units in Poland leading to reduced pro rata emissions." (3) To date, there is no publicly available data that suggests that PGE has taken the steps to fulfil its commitment to close the units. In fact under Poland's Transitional National Plan the operator wants to keep running the units beyond 2020. (4)
This controversy comes while government delegates have just finalised the summary of the latest report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which addresses how to best reduce CO2 emissions.
"The decision to extend the life of this filthy and outdated coal plant flies in the race of the latest findings from the IPCC, which has called for the phase-out of unabated coal in our low-carbon future," said Kathrin Gutmann of CAN Europe.
Belchatow's 13 units are not only the largest point source of CO2 emissions in Europe (5), but they also release huge amounts of dangerous air pollutants such as sulphur dioxide, nitrous oxides and particulate matter. These noxious gases are subject to the EU Industrial Emissions Directive (IED), which introduces stricter limits for power plants as of January 2016. However, Poland opted for exemptions from these limits with a Transitional National Plan (TNP) which allows the introduction of more effective pollution controls for a set of power plants to be postponed until July 2020. The Polish plan covers 73 installations, including units 1-12 of Belchatow.
"Belchatow is the single biggest contributor to health and environmental problems of any power plant in the European Union," says Julia Huscher from the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL). "The operator's own environmental impact assessment clearly states that shutting down the plant's two units would lead to cleaner air and a consequent decline in respiratory illness. Ignoring this opportunity by allowing the lifetime of these two units to be prolonged means unnecessary and unjustifiable harm to human health." (6)
Notes for the editors:
(1) Letter to the European Commission by EEB and HEAL:
A Transitional National Plan (TNP) allows Member States to exempt large combustion plants from minimum binding emission limits for SO2, NOx and dust (PM2.5 and PM10) which have been tightened up through the EU Industrial Emissions Directive with effect of 1st January 2016. The TNP derogation instead allows operators to delay stricter limits up to July 2020 through setting a common emissions volume for all power plants, thus postponing costly investments in new pollution control techniques.
(2) The modernisation plan includes the construction of a new block (unit 13), for which blocks 1 and 2 should be closed, and the modernization of blocks 3-12. Additionally, flue gas desulfurization systems to remove sulfur dioxide from the stacks should have been installed at two units which didn't have any filters for this pollutant before 2005. Furthermore, best available techniques for pollution control should have been introduced by the project. After the construction of block 13 and works on units 1-6 Belchatow is now the one of the largest coal power plants in the world with 5298 MWel installed capacity and will probably overtake Tuoketuo in China on rank two by end of next year once works on units 7-12 are completed (compare operator's website in Polish: http://www.elbelchatow.pgegiek.pl/index.php/2011/08/04/5053-mw-z-elektrowni-belchatow/).
(3) European Bank for Reconstruction and Development: Project Summary Documents Belchatow II http://www.ebrd.com/english/pages/project/psd/2005/25438.shtml; Elektrownia Belchatow SA & ELBIS: Construction of 833 MW power unit at BOT Elektrownia Belchatow S.A. – Summary of the Environmental Impact Statement. http://www.ebrd.com/english/pages/project/eia/25438e.pdf
(4) Annex 8 to Poland's Transitional National Plan, Przejściowy Plan Krajowy, version from 12 December 2013, downloaded from European Commission CIRCABC website http://www.eeb.org/EEB/?LinkServID=FA21693E-5056-B741-DB56BA00D2E0F5AE
(5) In 2013 Belchatow emitted 37 million tons of CO2 compared to around 30 million tons annually between 2007 and 2010. European Commission, DG Climate Action, http://ec.europa.eu/clima/policies/ets/registry/docs/verified_emissions_2013_en.xls as well as European Pollutant Release and Transfer Register http://prtr.ec.europa.eu/
(6) A 2011 report by the European Environment Agency estimated the external costs of Belchatow, including the external costs of CO2 emissions, at 1.5-2.5 billion Euro per year, making it the highest ranking polluter. European Environment Agency, 2011, Spreadsheet accompanying the report Revealing the costs of air pollution from industrial facilities in Europe, http://www.eea.europa.eu/publications/cost-of-air-pollution
(Updated to final version of press release May 5 2014)