Lawmakers vote to exclude fossil fuels from EU recovery fund

“I will fight for this position to have a majority” in the European Parliament’s plenary. There can be “no fossil fuels financing as we invest for the future and not in the past,” said Pascal Canfin, a French MEP who drafted the resolution. [© European Union 2020 - Source : EP]

The environment committee in the European Parliament voted on Monday (12 October) to exclude fossil fuels from support under the EU’s €750 billion recovery fund intended to boost the bloc’s economy in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.

The proposed resolution was adopted with 65 votes in favour, 15 against and 3 abstentions, according to voting results made available on Tuesday.

The Parliament’s two lead committees, for economic and budgetary affairs, will vote on the proposed EU recovery fund in early November, with a final vote expected during a plenary session by mid-November.

Pascal Canfin, a French centrist lawmaker who chairs the Parliament’s environment committee, was the main author of the resolution. Taking to Twitter, he welcomed the vote, saying “it’s paving the way for a true green recovery” from the coronavirus crisis.

“I will fight for this position to have a majority” in the European Parliament’s plenary. There can be “no fossil fuels financing as we invest for the future and not in the past,” Canfin said.

EU leaders agreed in July on a €750 billion recovery fund aimed at helping the EU economy get back on its feet after the lockdowns imposed across the bloc during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The European Parliament and EU member states have now started a voting process to give their consent to the fund and agree on rules related to spending.

But it remains to be seen whether the Parliament as a whole will follow its environment committee. And it is also unclear if EU member states will accept the principle of excluding fossil fuels from funding when they agree their common position in the EU Council of Ministers.

Both the EU Council and Parliament need to agree on an identical text before the fund is adopted.

MEPs in the environment committee were voting yesterday on a €672.5 billion Resilience and Recovery Facility set up by EU leaders as part of a July deal which also included a €1 trillion EU budget for the next seven years (2021-2027).

Non-repayable grants worth a total of €312.5 billion will be provided to EU countries under the facility and the remaining €360 billion will be provided in loans.

Environmental NGOs hailed the vote in the Parliament’s environment committee, calling it “a major step forward” a few days after lawmakers voted to increase the EU’s greenhouse gas reduction target to 60% by 2030.

“Limiting temperature increase to 1.5°C requires phasing out fossil gas by 2035 at the latest and to immediately stop spending public money on fossil gas projects,” said Esther Bollendorff from Climate Action Network Europe. “The Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs and the Committee on Budgets need to confirm this ambition early November,” she added.

Ariadna Rodrigo, Greenpeace EU spokesperson on the green recovery, warned that “this is progress, but the fossil fuel industry still has a lot of allies in the EU Parliament and especially in European governments”.

“They have no problem plugging absurd arguments about how fossil fuels like gas deserve our money to supposedly deliver a green recovery. They’ve been successful in obtaining funding in the past, but no parliament who’s declared a climate emergency can afford to fall for these fairy tales again.”

'Do no harm': EU recovery fund has green strings attached

The European Union’s proposed €750 billion fund to help the bloc recover from the coronavirus crisis will have green strings attached, with 25% of all funding set aside for climate action, the European Commission has said.

[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]

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