With the impending implosion of the Euro – the single currency that binds all the member nations of the EU together – the climate policies that have been among the most comprehensive in the world, and have resulted in Europe meeting the 8% emissions drop needed for the Kyoto Protocol 2012 target several years early, are now at risk.
Just this summer, the European Commission announced that environmental policy and climate change action would be “mainstreamed” into all areas of the EU budget from 2014 to 2020, with climate-related expenditure making up at least 20% of EU financing: an extraordinary level of funding.
According to Environmental Finance, the Commission proposed that the EU budget for the next seven-year period which starts 2014 should rise to €1,025 billion ($1.48 trillion by the US count of billions/trillions) ramping up further from €975 billion in the current seven-year period, already nearly a trillion in US dollars.
This would include a ‘Connecting Europe Facility’ that would use “innovative financing tools”, including project bonds to speed up investment in Europe’s energy and transport networks, and help the integration of renewables into the electricity grid.
Likewise, the EU plans to commit higher levels of funding to the fight against climate change in developing countries and allocate €80 billion for research and innovation – with the energy sector being a key recipient of funds.
These proposals are only the start of a lengthy negotiation between member states and the European Parliament over the future EU spending plan.
But European environmental groups, who don’t know a good thing when they see it, apparently, were very dissatisfied with the proposed level of funding. Tony Long, director of the World Wildlife Fund for Europe said the Commission’s budget proposal “holds out the promise of some minor environmental advances but is largely business as usual for Europe”.
Green NGOs had called for a level of funding along the lines of the US gearing up for World War II after the bombing of Pearl Harbour. They were hoping for a ramp-up from the current seven year period level of funding to at least 35% of the EU budget to be used to tackle climate change in the final seven years till 2020. This is the deadline by which world global carbon emissions must begin to go down if we are to avoid very long term and irreversible catastrophic climate change.
Will Europe stay the course? A final agreement on the funding levels is expected at some point in 2012.