German and French NGOs call on governments to make green investments

The EU's recovery programme should not support fossil investments, say French and German NGOs [Shutterstock | iurii]

A day before the European Commission presents its long-awaited proposal for an EU recovery programme, a group of German and French civil society organisations has sent a letter to their respective governments. EURACTIV Germany reports.

The letter contains concrete demands for a green economic package and comes just a week after the two countries’ joint push for a European recovery fund of €500 billion.

The NGOs, which on the German side include the Naturschutzring, the Caritasverband or the think tank E3G, warn against a wrong application of the current public investments.

If these are not channelled into green infrastructure, “we risk locking ourselves into an economy that emits many greenhouse gases and makes the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C unattainable.”

The European Commission must now question two of its taboos, wrote Kevin Puisieux of the French Nicolas Hulot Foundation.

On the one hand, it needs more direct transfers between member states, as the €500 billion proposed by France and Germany are a “minimum threshold.” On the other hand, all investments should be subject to conditions.

“By making the Green Deal the framework for European convergence, the Commission could satisfy the ‘frugal four’ countries that want to see spending closely monitored. At the same time, it would also benefit those countries that want to invest heavily in Europe’s prosperity in the coming decades,” Puisieux wrote.

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The so-called EU taxonomy for sustainable investments should be used as an instrument for this purpose. In parallel, the EU Stability and Growth Pact should be adapted accordingly.

It is interesting to note that investments in nuclear energy are explicitly excluded. France had always advocated classifying nuclear power as an environmentally friendly energy source within the framework of EU funding.

In addition, the NGOs are calling on the Commission to present a legislative package for decarbonising industry, which would have to be linked to the action plan for circular economy.

To prevent environmentally harmful industries – such as mining, water management, agriculture and livestock farming – from migrating to countries of the Global South, a “restructuring of production and consumption patterns” must also take place.

European agricultural policy, for example, should be restructured in such a way that 70% of all funds flow directly into environmental protection.

The signatories also support a carbon border tax, an idea long promoted by France to protect European industry from foreign and less environmentally friendly competition.

However, such an instrument would only make sense if free CO2 certificates were simultaneously abolished for large parts of industry. In contrast, they reject an extension of the European certificate market (ETS) to the transport and building sectors, calling it inefficient.

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Finally, in the transport sector, the organisations are demanding that no state aid be paid to airlines, apart from measures to preserve jobs. At the same time, a fuel tax should be introduced and air traffic within the EU reduced.

France, together with the Netherlands, recently pledged up to €11 billion-worth of state aid to airline group Air France-KLM. Yesterday, the German government agreed on €9 billion for Lufthansa. In return, all three governments want to encourage the carriers to invest in more environmentally friendly fuels.

[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]

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