BRUSSELS (Reuters) – A European Commission proposal for the European Union’s long-term budget and recovery fund risks leaving a huge shortfall in the “green” investment needed to meet Europe’s climate goals, researchers said on Tuesday.
With the coronavirus pandemic plunging the EU into a deep recession, leaders from its 27 countries will meet in Brussels on Friday to attempt to agree the bloc’s budget for 2021-27 and an economic stimulus fund.
The EU Commission has proposed a 1.85 trillion euro ($2.10 trillion) package, which it says will drive a recovery in Europe’s virus-hit economies based on “green” industries and technologies that help to reduce emissions of the greenhouse gases fuelling climate change.
But only 80 billion euros are firmly earmarked for climate protection, according to an analysis by the consultancy Climate & Company and think tank Agora Energiewende, both German-based, being published on Tuesday.
That would pale against the 2.4 trillion euros in low-carbon investments that the researchers said were needed by 2027 to meet the EU’s current emissions-cutting goals.
They said investment priorities should be rapidly expanding renewable power generating capacity, clean hydrogen production, energy-saving building renovations and electric vehicle charging infrastructure.
“There is a real discrepancy between the narrative we are seeing at the highest political level and the details of the proposals,” said Matthias Buck, head of European energy policy at Agora Energiewende.
The Commission said it could not comment on an unpublished study.
It has said 25% of the EU budget should support climate action. But the researchers said the lack of enforcement measures created a “huge political risk” that this money would be spent on investments that are polluting.
Even if all EU funds made the maximum possible climate contribution, this would only add up to 675 billion euros by 2027.
European Council President Charles Michel on Friday put forward a new budget proposal that earmarked 30% for climate spending.
Buck said Michel’s proposal was “progress”, but still lacked safeguards.
(Reporting by Kate Abnett; editing by Marine Strauss and Kevin Liffey)