A monthly update on policy development, campaigning and communications

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A monthly update on policy development, campaigning and communications by CAN Europe - Newsletter No.7 - April 2017




Following the nomination period, the Awards Jury (CAN Europe, CEE Bankwatch, CounterBalance, Friends of the Earth Europe, Green Budget Europe, HEAL, Oil Change International, Overseas Development Institute and WWF European Policy Office) is now shortlisting the nominations that will be put to public vote in two weeks time to see which subsidies win the 2017 European Fossil Fuel Subsidies Awards.

The public vote will started on April 10th and will run until May 8th. By voting for a subsidy for an Award, anyone will be able to contribute to exposing the hypocrisy of European governments and other public institutions' promises to tackle climate action while at the same time funding fossil fuels. The Awards will be handed out at an Awards Ceremony in Brussels on the 22nd of May. You don't want miss that!

Any questions? Don't hesitate to reach out! You can contact us at









The EU must step up and lead the push for the world’s big economies to end fossil fuel subsidies

Maeve McLynn

(This text was published as an Op-ed in Euractiv from April 19th)

On 20-21 April, finance ministers from the world’s 20 most powerful economies will gather in Washington for their annual meeting, to discuss our international financial system, including key aspects to ensure global financial stability.

G20 countries have woken up to the importance of broadening the scope of the discussions to include issues related to climate change. Topics such as green finance and investment, fossil fuel subsidies and climate risk are regular agenda items at G20 meetings. While such an evolution looks encouraging, action remains inadequate.

Counter to economic logic and climate urgency, money is still being pumped into fossil fuels.

Massive amounts of money are still being pumped into activities that completely run against efforts to tackle climate change. The most troubling example is the unbalanced financial support for fossil fuels provided by national governments, better known as fossil fuel subsidies.

Fossil fuel subsidies remain huge and pose enormous costs to wider society and tax-payers, particularly in times of budget austerity: the reported figure for financial support to fossil fuels in G20 countries in 2015 was $452 billion. This does not even take into account the much bigger external costs of burning fossil fuels in terms of human health, water and environmental pollution, and climate change impacts.

Recently, some key actors in the G20 have shown interest in tackling fossil fuel subsidies, including plans to identify and phase out the various measures through which fossil fuels are funded. The process of peer reviewing subsidies has garnered support: this year Germany, Mexico and Indonesia plan to publish their reviews of fossil fuel subsidies, following last year’s efforts by China and the US. Additionally, countries such as India and Argentina are warming to fossil fuel subsidy reform through taxation measures.

The EU needs to be a more fearless leader in addressing fossil fuel subsidies.

The EU has begun to speak out more about fossil fuel subsidies, and although progress has been slow, it could finally be putting its words into action. In November 2016, the European Commission presented its long-awaited ‘Clean energy for all Europeans’ package, which featured a number of proposals on how EU financing should support the clean energy transition and secure a safer future for Europe’s societies: phasing out fossil fuel subsidies was identified as a key measure.

Proposals include green taxation reform and effective governance of national efforts to eliminate subsidies to fossil fuels. This indicates a willingness to better align European finance and investments with objectives to have a cleaner, safer and more efficient energy system. Now all EU leaders need to match this willingness with both a concrete plan and explicit endorsement to phase out fossil fuel subsidies as soon as possible.

EU ambition must be demonstrated and carried through to the international stage.

The G20 platform is an obvious way for EU leaders and ministers to showcase their efforts and actions to eliminate polluting subsidies. Not only will EU action build on the G20 commitment from 2009 to phase out fossil fuel subsidies, it will also show that ministers have been paying attention to the countless calls from civil society, investors and insurers to phase out subsidies by 2020.

The conspicuous leadership void left by the US indicates just how important it is for the EU to be more vocal, active and demonstrative on climate action in the G20. With a European country at the helm of the G20 presidency, bolstered by the commitment of large economies like China and Canada, the EU should pave the way in ending the benefits to polluters and lead a transition that benefits people.




New Publication for the ENVI Committee in the European Parliament on Fossil Fuel Subsidies

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"This paper provides an overview of fossil fuel subsidies globally and in the EU, as well as a summary of key components of successful reform efforts and why reform can be difficult to achieve for governments.
This analysis was provided by Policy Department A for the Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI)."

Click here to access the paper.

EndsEurope coverage: Redirecting funds key to removing fossil fuel aid – study

Other EU news

Climate Action Programme: EU on track to meet 2020 renewable energy targets : “Markus Trilling, policy coordinator at the CAN Europe coalition of green NGOs, urged MEPs to ensure the budget is aligned with achieving the goals of the Paris climate Agreement in addition to establishing a framework for climate proofing and for the phase out of any support to fossil fuels.”

- Ends Europe: Greens rue lack of climate funding in EU budget revision : “The Greens have criticised the European Parliament for failing to allocate resources to meet commitments in the Paris Agreement in a mid-term review of the 2014-2020 budget.”

- Ends Europe: MEPs back dedicating 40% of EFSI to green projects: “MEPs have supported proposals to guarantee that a minimum share of the money in the EU’s investment fund is used to finance climate and energy efficiency projects.”

- Guardian: Isolated Poland threatens to spoil party at EU summit over two-speed Europe


- Foreign Affairs: OPINION: Reformed carbon market must no longer fund coal: “Poland is the most striking case. It is the biggest beneficiary of Article 10c’s free allowances. Between 2013 and 2020 Polish energy companies receive estimated value of almost €7.5 billion. The vast majority of these funds is being spent on subsidising coal power.”

- Euractiv: The true picture of the German Energiewende: “Despite broad public acceptance and the investment boom in the rest of the world, the annual investments in renewables in the EU and Germany have halved since 2012.”

- Euractiv: Paris Agreement architect: Spain needs to contribute to decarbonisation strategies: “During an interview with EFE in Madrid ahead of a meeting with climate actors, Laurence Tubiana, the French diplomat that led the Paris Agreement talks, said that Spain “needs to go to the G20 meeting in July, with a plan in hand how to decarbonise the economy, like most other world powers have”.”



- New Europe: EU reaffirms clean energy commitment at G7 Rome Meeting: “While US Secretary of Energy Rick Perry informed his G7 counterparts that the US is currently reviewing its energy and climate policies, all others joined the European Union in reaffirming their solid commitment and determination to implement the Paris Agreement and continue the clean energy transition, EU Energy and Climate Action Commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete said.”

- Politico: Energy executive order may slip again: “The [G20] finance ministers did once again reaffirm their commitment to “rationalize and phase out, over the medium term, inefficient fossil fuel subsidies that encourage wasteful consumption, recognizing the need to support the poor.””

- Euractiv: Study: Backing fossil fuels is economically and politically irresponsible. “German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel (SPD), who as economic affairs minister often protected the coal industry, now wants to use Germany’s presidency of the G20 to boost his country’s energy transition, the Energiewende, as well as take it global.”

- Climate Home: G7 fails to agree Paris climate statement as US turns spoiler. “G7 energy ministers have failed to agree on a statement supporting the Paris climate accord after the US delegation said it was reviewing its position. But the US did back an Obama-era pledge to end “inefficient fossil fuel subsidies” by 2025.” Click here to read the Chair's Summary.

- Visual News: A look at the big impact of fossil fuel subsidy reform. “If you’re unsure of what fossil fuel subsidies are, they’re basically measures that lower the cost of fossil fuel energy production, raise the price collected by energy contractors, or lower the price paid by the consumers. A study released by Science Direct, How Large Are Global Fossil Fuel Subsidies?,  looks at the economic and environmental benefits of reforming fossil fuel subsidies, concentrating on consumer prices, environmental costs, and overall taxes.”




- CAN Europe: 

- CEE Bankwatch: 



- IISD and Overseas Development Institute (op-ed): UK is in no position to lecture Saudis on oil dependence

- ClientEarth: Bulgaria faces EU Commission scrutiny over state aid misuse

- CEE Bankwatch: 

- Green Budget Europe: Green overhaul of Swedish fuel and vehicle taxation



- CAN Europe: G7: tax money must stop fueling fossil energy

- CEE Bankwatch: Why no Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (NO TAP), here or elsewhere

- Counter Balance:

- IISD: A Low-Hanging Fruit for Financing and Implementing SDGs: End Fossil Fuel Subsidies


(to open a report, click on the related image)

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Click on the calendar image to view events and add them to your calendar:

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For an overview of the main national fossil fuel subsidies in Europe, click on the following map below (which you can also find on our website):

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The website's table of contents with direct links to the different sections:


  euro-white-icon-in-form-of-F.png   Fossil fuel subsidies
  ic_shuffle_white_48dp_2x.png   Avenues for change
  ic_description_white_48dp_2x.png   Publications



NGO publications



  ic_event_white_48dp_2x.png   Events






The voice against fossil fuel subsidies has internationally grown stronger the last couple of years - both among civil society and world leaders - but it is apparent that European decision makers don’t feel enough pressure to start putting their money where their mouth is. A united voice from NGOs and other actors will help to steer the debate in the right direction – towards enhanced and fair climate action.  CAN Europe is working with members and non-members across Europe to support the development of a strong, common narrative on phasing out public financial support for fossil fuels. What is your story? Make it heard! Contact: Nicolas Derobert

Have any news you want to share or comments on the content ? Contact: Martin O'Brien

For continual news updates and useful resources, visit our website.

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