On the day after US President Obama, in a notoriously challenging domestic political context for climate action, vetoed a major fossil fuel infrastructure project, the EU has announced its ‘Energy Union’ vision and commitment kicking off the UN climate talks’ country pledges process. Prepare to be underwhelmed.
The move is failing to deliver the emissions cuts proposal required to be in line with science and justice, and represents a missed opportunity to amplify positive climate action already happening in the bloc.
The proposed emissions reduction figure by the EU, as unambitious as it is, masks an even more worrying continued reliance on fossil fuel-friendly policies, particularly evident in its most recent investment plan (the so-called Juncker plan in Brussels circles).
Up to €69 billion of Member States’ contributions over the next two years could be going to high-carbon projects, including €16 billion towards coal and €26 billion in gas and oil pipeline infrastructure. The UK sends a strong signal for the beginning of a major coal phase out in the region? The EU says: let’s fund some more. Warnings around stranded assets and the moral imperative to stop funding climate disaster? The EU says: let’s double down on fossil fuel infrastructure.
Emma Hughes, from Platform London, commented on the announcement: “Juncker’s investment offensive is a disaster for the climate. The EU plans to throw public money at hundreds of dirty projects like the Euro-Caspian Mega Pipeline which, if built, would pump over a billion tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere during the next forty years – locking us into both fossil fuels and the brutal Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan regimes.”
The EU can’t claim the role of climate leader and stick to its commitment to 2° warming with one foot timidly in the direction of a clean energy future and the other fully in the past.
Throughout the rest of the year we will need a broad regional movement of people to generate and sustain pressure for bold climate action, and to show that climate leadership and continued support of fossil fuels are fundamentally incompatible positions for political leaders to take ahead of the UN climate talks in Paris. Only then the vast gap between talk and action will be bridged.
CORRECTIONS (22:08 CET): Figures are total investment values of projects proposed by Member States, rather than Member States contributions, as incorrectly noted. Also, 2015-17 totals for high-carbon energy are €29bn, whereas the total of €69bn refers to 2015-2017 and beyond. Other numbers need to be adapted accordingly as well. For more up to date info, please consult the E3G fact sheet on the Juncker plan.