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'Ending Fossil Fuel Subsidies in Europe' Newsletter No.10 - July-August 2017

A monthly update on policy development, campaigning and communications

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A monthly update on policy development, campaigning and communications by CAN Europe - Newsletter No.10 - July-August 2017
CAN EUROPE'S LATEST TAKE ON THE ISSUE

G20 outcome

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CAN Europe's press release following the G20 meeitng in Hamburg:

"G19 confirms its commitment for the implementation of the Paris Agreement

In reaction to the outcome of the G20 summit that has taken place on 7-8 July in Germany, Wendel Trio, Director of Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe said:

We welcome the continued commitment of our leaders to the Paris Agreement. The adoption of the Climate and Energy Action Plan is a clear indication that the world’s largest economies are well aware that action is urgently needed to make the zero carbon transition happen.
The next step is obviously to move from commitment to action, by raising the level of ambition of the Paris pledges, phasing out fossil fuel subsidies by 2020 and providing support to those most vulnerable to climate change impacts."

 

We invite you to consult Germanwatch's analysis of the G20 outcome in their blog and brief analysis which includes the following points of fossil fuel subsidies:

"(...) there was again no consensus on introducing a phase-out date (following, e.g., the 2016 pledge by the G7 to phase out fossil fuel subsidies by 2025 and a suggestion of the German presidency to accept this date also as G20). The current text therefore reiterates the existing commitment, adding that “we will endeavour to make further progress in moving forward this commitment”, encouraging all G20 members to initiate a voluntary peer review as soon as feasible, and noting the OECD/IEA progress report on the peer review process and facilitation of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies phase out. Germany could use the rest of their G20 presidency (until end of the year) to initiate a process together with the Argentinian presidency to move indeed forward this commitment, as it is real disappointment that again no clear timeline is announced in the text. All engagement groups of G20 had jointly asked for such a timeline. The CEAP also recognizes that “inefficient fossil fuel subsidies (IFFS) that encourage wasteful consumption distort energy markets, impede investment in clean energy sources, place a strain on public budgets, and incentivise unsustainable infrastructure investments”."


 

 

Future EU budget: European Commission publishes its reflections on the future of EU finances, featuring climate change and energy transition in all future scenarios

by Markus Trilling

 

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The European Commission has published its ‘Reflection paper on the future of EU finances post-2020’ on 28 June, the last of five policy papers within the so called “White paper process on the future of Europe”.

With this paper, the European Commission puts down its thinking on the post 2020-EU budget priorities and structures according to the five different scenarios for the future of Europe, presented by the Juncker commission in March this year on the occasion of the Rome summit.

The paper suggests some options and conditions for shaping the future EU financing:

  1. In order to reduce economic and social divergences, one overarching priority would be to invest in people, from education and training, to health, equality and social inclusion;
  2. New ambitions in Europe’s military defence should lead to the creation of a European Defence Fund for joint development of projects;
  3. The EU budget should incentivize structural reforms linked to the European Semester Process, emphasizing the importance of the ‘rule of law’ as an EU core value that is important for the implementation of the EU budget;
  4. A ‘macroeconomic stabilization function’ should protect against larger shocks;
  5. The necessary shift towards a ‘sustainable growth’ model would need to integrate social and environmental considerations in a holistic way, with the EU budget catalyzing the low-carbon transition;  
  6. Common Agricultural Policy and Cohesion Policy (both together 2/3rd of the EU budget) would need to undergo reforms, as well to tackle the gap in the EU budget after the UK leaving (around 11bn euro per year, 7%); however, all (other) programmes would need to prove EU-added value and be simplified and more flexible;
  7. External Action instruments might be reduced in number and the European Development Fund (EDF) integrated into the EU budget;

All 5 possible future EU budget scenarios outlined in the paper call for a stronger or exclusive focus on ‘social inclusion, employment, skills, innovation, climate change, energy and environmental transition’.

Whereas acting on climate change seems to feature prominently in the reflection paper, it remains to see how much the European Commission will finally embrace the concept of climate mainstreaming its EU budget proposal, which consequently should lead to exclusion of financing fossil fuel infrastructure post-2020. Read our press release here.

The European Commission will publish its final proposals for the EU budget around the middle of 2018, after having engaged in a broad public debate with stakeholders in the second half of 2017.

This discussion is an opportunity to continue convincing Member States’ government, the European Parliament and the European Commission of the opportunities, the needs and advantages of shifting financial flows to deliver on the objectives of the Paris Agreement.

MEDIA COVERAGE 

 EU DEVELOPMENTS

EU Budget 

Screenshot from 2017-07-14 22:42:47.png- Euractiv: Green finance group calls on EU to stop funding fossil fuels. “A group of financial experts has set out its vision for hardwiring sustainability goals into the European Union’s financial system, calling on the 28-country bloc to stop pouring public money into polluting fossil fuels and focus spending on clean energies instead. The EU’s high-level group on sustainable finance issued its interim report on Thursday (13 July), urging the European Union to stop all public funding for fossil fuel industries such as coal, oil and gas. The upcoming revision of the EU’s multi-annual budget is “a significant opportunity” to increase investments in clean technologies and “explicitly exclude fossil fuels and other unsustainable projects” from public funding, the group wrote in its report. Instead, public money should be geared towards “only supporting renewable energy and energy and resource efficiency”, the report added. The EU high-level group on sustainable finance was set up by the European Commission last December to look into ways of nudging the financial system towards long-term environmental and social objectives."

- Euractiv: EU budget for climate action: Time to wake the sleeping beauty. “The EU budget must be reformed to comply with the requirements of the Paris Agreement.”

 Other news

- Bioenergy International: Biggest EU investors partially aligned with Paris Agreement but more efforts needed. “Lack of disclosure on climate risk remains an element of concern that will have to be addressed by the upcoming G-20 Summit.”

- Ends Europe: MEP would end priority dispatch for green power. “The Latvian lawmaker agrees with the EU executive's view that 'capacity mechanisms' — which critics view as state subsidies to coal, the dirtiest fuel for power generation in terms of CO2 emissions — should be permitted "only as a last resort".”

- Energy Business Review: EIB offer EUR29m loan for expansion of gas distribution in Portugal. "The European Investment Bank (EIB) is granting EUR 29 million loan to support the investment programme of Sonorgas aimed at expanding its natural gas distribution networks to new areas in northern Portugal. (...) The agreement was made possible by support from the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the central pillar of the European Commission's Investment Plan for Europe, the so-called "Juncker Plan"(...)"

- Politico: 'ECB lends to a who's who of corporate Europe'. "The European Central Bank, under pressure from MEPs, has published a list of its holdings as part of its “corporate sector purchase program.” The program, started in 2016, involves the ECB lending to non-bank companies by buying corporate bonds from them. (...) beneficiaries of the ECB policy include German chemical giant BASF; electricity firms EDF, Engie, Enel, E.ON and Iberdrola; Airbus Group and Ryanair; telecoms companies Orange, Deutsche Telekom, Telefonica, Telecom Italia and KPN; oil and gas companies Shell, ENI, Total and Repsol; car companies Volkswagen and Renault; French pharmaceutical firm Sanofi; giant brewers Anheuser-Busch InBev and Heineken; conglomerates Unilever, Siemens and LVMH (Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton); software and service provider SAP."

- Euractiv: EU initiative to help coal mining regions will start in autumn. "The Commission is working on an initiative to support coal mining regions during the transition towards a low-emission economy."


 NATIONAL DEVELOPMENTS

- Euractiv: Estonia ties electricity talks with digital policy at EU helm. “The European Commission fears that capacity mechanisms would just translate into subsidies for coal power plants.”

- Energy Live News: EU approves Danish state aid for coal to biomass plant. “The Commission found that the project concerns the replacement of an existing unit and that it will not lead to undue distortions of competition in the electricity market.”


 

 INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENTS

- Reuters: Of world's 20 leading economies, Italy, Brazil, France and Germany are closest to meeting international targets to keep global warming below 2C. "If other G20 governments are serious about standing up to Trump's climate denial and meeting their commitments under the Paris Agreement, they need to stop propping up the outdated fossil fuel industry with public money."

- The Guardian: G20 public finance for fossil fuels 'is four times more than renewables. “Soft loans, subsidies and World Bank funding mean nations are ‘talking out of both sides of their mouths’ on climate, says report.”

- Huffington post: New Report Finds G20 Nations Still Sending Billions In Public Finance To Fossil Fuels. “Countries need to transition their financing away from outdated fossil fuels toward the clean energy economy.”

- Common Dreams: Statement: G20 Leaders Shame Trump, but Fail to End Fossil Fuel Subsidies. “Unfortunately the G19 failed to take action to demonstrate that they’re serious about the Paris Agreement by actually ending handouts to the fossil fuel industry, instead of once again offering the same tired ‘commitment’ backed by little action.”

- Energy Collective: From C20 to the G20: What We Need on Carbon Pricing and Fossil Fuel Subsidy Reform. “The side event shed light on actions taken by different countries regarding carbon pricing and fossil fuel subsidy reform measures and tools, and how such efforts need to be further reinforced to address fossil fuel subsidies.”

- British utilities: Renewable Energy Soon To Be Cheapest Form Of Electricity In G20 Countries, Says Greenpeace – CleanTechnica. “This week’s report showed that G20 countries averaged $70 billion in public finance for fossil fuels.”

- Business Insider: Oil, gas, and coal industries get a shocking amount of funding from the US government, a new report shows. “The US government provided about $6 billion annually in financial support to the oil, gas, and coal industries between 2013 and 2015.”

- Clean Energy Wire: “G20 needs to show concrete steps to implement Paris climate accord”. “The topic of a price on CO₂ needs to be addressed. On the one hand that means ending fossil fuel subsidies. It’s also about further clarifying exactly which subsidies are meant.”.

- South East Green: U.S. Sending $6 Billion to Subsidize Fossil Fuel Projects Abroad. “The report by Oil Change International, Friends of the Earth U.S., the Sierra Club and WWF European Policy Office, for the first time ever, details public support for energy projects from G20 public finance institutions (such as overseas development aid agencies and export credit agencies) and multilateral development banks.”

- Euractiv: Business leaders back G20 task force recommendations on climate-risk disclosure. "Over 100 business leaders worldwide have backed the final recommendations of a global task force set up by the G20 to disclose how companies manage climate-related risk, in a move that could divert trillions of investments away from polluting fossil fuels."

- The Energy Mix: Slower Paris implementation would risk $20 trillion in stranded assets: IRENA. "Stranded asset risk around the world will double from US$10 to $20 trillion by mid-century if governments delay implementation of the Paris agreement, the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) warns in a working paper produced for the German government and released ahead of last week’s G20 leaders’ summit in Hamburg."

CSO CAMPAIGNS, ADVOCACY & PUBLICATIONS

SGC-route-rb.jpgPetition: Stop the Trans Adriatic Pipeline

350.org has started an open letter to oppose the construction of the TAP, part of the Southern Gas Corridor. It calls for the "the immediate suspension of all work associated with TAP and the Southern Gas Corridor. We urge the European Commission to re-assess its support for the pipeline, and call on the EIB and EBRD not to invest public funds in this unnecessary, unjust and financially reckless project"

To sign the letter, click here.

 More information on the letter:

Europe is on the verge of building a mega-pipeline that would lock the region into fossil fuels for decades, destroy Europe’s climate targets, and impact harshly on communities in its path.

We can still stop this: the pipeline can’t happen without funding and European backing. Add your name to the open letter today.

The Trans Adriatic Pipeline (TAP) is part of the Southern Gas Corridor -- a vast 3500km stretch of planned pipeline that would bring gas from Azerbaijan to Europe. This pipeline, one of many new unnecessary gas infrastructure projects across the region, would divert billions in funding away from renewables. Research has shown that we cannot build new fossil fuel infrastructure if we are to meet the commitments made in Paris*. And with Donald Trump’s rejection of the Paris Agreement, it’s all the more important that Europe steps up.

A diverse group including scientists, musicians, researchers, and members of frontline communities impacted by pipelines elsewhere in the world have written an open letter to the European Commission and European public banks calling for a stop to all pipeline works, support and funding.

There’s much at stake for people living in the path of the pipeline, too. Communities in southern Italy are seeing their ancient olive groves uprooted, families in Albania who have farmed for generations are losing their land, and people in Greece are finding sections of pipeline laid without permission or warning.

The EU justifies this project by saying it will provide energy security. But by diverting funding away from renewables and creating fossil fuel dependency on authoritarian Azerbaijan? Is that really what energy security looks like? We’d rather see the creation of tens of thousands of democratic renewable energy coops, owned and controlled by and for the benefit of the communities in which they are built. With gas demand declining across Europe, there is simply no justification for this pipeline.

Please add your name to the open letter, and let’s build pressure on the European Commission and European public banks not to back this unjust, unnecessary and irresponsible fossil fuel project.

 

Screenshot from 2017-07-14 21:28:15.pngSDG Watch Europe and Friends of the Earth Europe iniated an alternative sustainable vision for Europe

In response to the to proposals from European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker which includes five 'Future of Europe' scenarios that are under consultation with member states (first conclusions due at the end of the year)

More than 250 non-government organisations from across Europe have today released an alternative vision for a more democratic, just and sustainable Europe.

Intended to influence the debate on the future direction of Europe, this alternative vision is endorsed by organisations representing a multitude of public interest issues, including labour rights, culture, development, environment, health, women's rights, youth, and anti-discrimination groups.

It comes ahead of a summit of EU leaders this week with the key issues for Europe's future on the agenda, including migration, security, jobs and Brexit. This week also marks the one year anniversary of the UK's vote to leave the European Union (June 23) which propelled questions about the future of Europe up the political agenda.

The vision describes a future for Europe in which "sustainability sits firmly at the heart of the European project," and the EU focuses on "democracy and participation, social and environmental justice, solidarity and sustainability, respect for the rule of law, and human rights both within Europe and around the globe".

Click for here more information and here to read Scenario 6.

 

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A coalition of NGOs have launched in June the People's Budget campaign. You can find below the general aim of the project (visit the the campaign's website for more information)

 

"We need a united Europe. The key to unlocking a positive new vision is rethinking the EU budget to make it work for citizens. We want to believe in a brighter future, where Europe is reconnected to its people and values.

We need to rethink where the money goes in order to build an economy that is more equal and sustainable. An economy based on well-being.

Households and communities deserve better access to EU funding to benefit from things like the clean energy transformation, and access to health care. We need fresh, innovative and engaging approaches to involve citizens, communities and workers in the spending of EU funds to build healthier cities and resilient communities in a society founded on European values. We need a budget that does more to create stable low carbon jobs, and empower young people. And we need an EU budget that is more forward looking – prioritising the building of community based economies that can reduce inequalities, improve social inclusion, inspire meaningful lives at the same time as reducing emissions on the path to 2050. A progressive Europe must care for all its citizens, including those that the “jobs, growth and competitiveness” story has left behind.

We need to sustainability proof the future EU budget and make it serve the public good, promote social inclusion and strengthen European values, instead of wasting taxpayers’ money on dirty fossil fuel investments, harmful and outdated farming practices, and large scale infrastructure projects that damage our health, destroy our environment, and jeopardise the safety and prosperity of our children.

We are a coalition of NGOs and civil society actors representing citizens across Europe. We recognise that the EU budget is a mirror of the European project. Thinking creatively about the next EU budget cycle can help advance a 6th scenario for the future of Europe and address many of the real problems facing the Union. We have developed a set of sustainability principles to ensure the coherence of the future EU budget and to help implement the Sustainable Development Goals. We are developing our policy demands, and calling on the European institutions and national governments to open the debate to civil society. We are working to ensure that the next EU Budget is a Budget for the People."

You can watch the recording of the online press briefing of the campaign' launch here


 

BLOGS, LETTERS AND POSITION PAPERS

EUROPEAN

 

- CAN Europe

- Counter Balance: 

- CEE Bankwatch:

 

NATIONAL

- CEE Bankwatch:

- ClientEarth:

 

INTERNATIONAL

- IISD:

- Germanwatch (blog post by Mustafa Özgür Berke from WWF Turkey):

 


 

REPORTS AND BRIEFINGS

 

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UPCOMING EVENTS

 

Click on the calendar image to view events and add them to your calendar:

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LINKS TO CAN EUROPE'S WORK ON SHIFTING FINANCIAL FLOWS

 

WEBSITE

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For an overview of the main national fossil fuel subsidies in Europe, click on the following map below (which you can also find on our website):

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The website's table of contents with direct links to the different sections:

 

       
  euro-white-icon-in-form-of-F.png   Fossil fuel subsidies
  ic_shuffle_white_48dp_2x.png   Avenues for change
  ic_description_white_48dp_2x.png   Publications
  ic_equalizer_white_48dp_2x.png  

Resources

Data

NGO publications

Visuals

Media

  ic_event_white_48dp_2x.png   Events
  ic_contact_mail_white_48dp_2x.png  

Contact

       

  


 

BUILDING A COMMON NARRATIVE 

The voice against fossil fuel subsidies has internationally grown stronger the last couple of years - both among civil society and world leaders - but it is apparent that European decision makers don’t feel enough pressure to start putting their money where their mouth is. A united voice from NGOs and other actors will help to steer the debate in the right direction – towards enhanced and fair climate action.  CAN Europe is working with members and non-members across Europe to support the development of a strong, common narrative on phasing out public financial support for fossil fuels. What is your story? Make it heard! Contact: Nicolas Derobert

Have any news you want to share or comments on the content ? Contact: Martin O'Brien

For continual news updates and useful resources, visit our website.

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