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EU Fossil Subsidies Dwarf Renewable Energy Investment

Lydia Jacobs/Public Domain Pictures

European governments and the European Union are doling out more €112 billion per year in fossil fuel subsidies, nearly half of the total in the transportation sector, dwarfing the €222-million renewable energy investment package the European Commission approved late last week, CleanTechnica reports in two separate news stories.

The subsidies analysis is based on a new report by the Overseas Development Institute and Climate Action Network-Europe, which compiled oil, gas, and coal subsidies from 11 European countries and the EU between 2014 and 2016. The €49 billion to transportation was devoted largely to tax breaks to reduce the cost of diesel fuel.

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“The air pollution crisis in cities across Europe and the recent diesel emissions testing scandal have rightly led to increased pressure for governments to act, yet our analysis shows European countries are providing enormous fossil fuel subsidies to the transport sector,” said lead author Shelagh Whitley, ODI’s Head of Climate and Energy. “Governments in Europe and the EU continue to subsidize and finance a reliance on oil, gas, and coal, fuelling dangerous climate change and air pollution with taxpayers’ money.”

“The €4 billion spent by the EU on fossil fuels, most of which goes to gas infrastructure, locks Europe into fossil fuel dependency for the decades to come,” added CAN-Europe Director Wendel Trio. “This violates the Paris agreement’s requirement to make finances work for the climate.”

The European Commission dollars, meanwhile, will be directed to 139 new projects across 20 EU countries, and will be structured to bring together up to €379 million in new investment, CleanTechnica notes [2]. “With these projects, we use limited public finance in a catalytic way: we unlock private finance to protect the environment, fight climate change, and provide cleaner energy to our citizens,” said Climate Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete. “These kinds of investments are of critical importance if we are to move from aspirations to action.”

WindEurope forecast [3] last week that the continent’s installed wind power capacity could exceed 200 gigawatts by 2020, with up to 15% of it in offshore wind farms. The total would put the EU ahead of the United States in wind development.