EU agrees to phase out fossil fuel subsidies in 10-year plan

Rapporteur Grace O’Sullivan welcomes deal backed by setting deadline and reporting on progress

 

The EU has agreed a 10-year environmental programme that includes phasing out fossil fuel and other environmentally harmful subsidies.

Known as the Eighth Environment Action Programme to 2030 (8EAP), it guides the EU’s priorities on climate and environment action for the next decade – and aligns with the European green deal.

Speaking on Thursday after nine hours of final negotiations on the legally binding programme, the European Parliament’s lead negotiator, Green MEP Grace O’Sullivan, welcomed the outcome.

“We are in a climate and biodiversity emergency and there is much to do. Parliament and the [European] Council still have to formally endorse the agreement, but today we have made ground in the fight to tackle the greatest threats to humankind and our planet,” she added.

As rapporteur in complex trilogue negotiations with the European Commission and European Council, she said her team have worked hard to secure success, backed by a strong mandate from the parliament. This meant environmental law had been strengthened in key areas, notably phasing out fossil fuel and other environmentally harmful subsidies, she said.

This would be backed by a binding legislative framework to monitor and report on member states’ progress towards phasing out the subsidies, she confirmed. “A deadline to phase out fossil fuel subsidies, which is consistent with limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees, will also be set.”

Cop26

The outcome of the Cop26 climate negotiations and the Cop15 biodiversity summit “had shown that ending public funding for activities that destroy our planet is finally on the global agenda, and the EU must lead on their phase out by adopting concrete deadlines”, she believed.

“The eighth EAP makes a ‘wellbeing economy’ a priority objective for 2030. This is a first in EU law and marks an important step in moving away from the obsessive, unsustainable focus on GDP growth towards what this pandemic has shown us is the most important thing of all; the wellbeing of our people and planet.

“This is a positive example of the sort of systemic change required to reach our objective of living well, within the limits of our planet,” Ms O’Sullivan said.

This sort of progress was critical in the fight to target emissions and address the climate and biodiversity emergency the planet was immersed in, she said.

Priority objectives of 8EAP include ensuring climate mitigation to attain the 2030 greenhouse gas emission reduction target of 55 per cent; enhanced adaptation measures to counter the inevitable impacts of climate disruption, and “protecting, preserving and restoring biodiversity”.

They also include pursuing “zero pollution”, especially in relation to harmful chemicals, and significantly reducing “key environmental pressures related to the EU’s material and consumption footprints”.