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.8 - May 2017 (for browser version, click here)

Fossil Fuel Subsidies Award Winners Revealed

Press release (May 22):

"Nine European countries have been named and shamed today in a public fossil fuel subsidies awards ceremony in Brussels. From 10 April until 8 May, the public voted on the deadliest, dirtiest and sneakiest subsidies to fossil fuels in Europe.

CAN Europe and a coalition of NGOs staged the awards in Brussels, marking the culmination of online nominations, public voting and campaigning. The awards raise attention to the different ways that European governments use tax payers' money to fuel climate change through burning more fossil fuels. Fossil fuel subsidies represent an economic dead-end, especially in times of scarce public resources and in the light of investments required to ensure the clean energy transition.

In today's medal ceremony, Poland cruised to gold in the Deadly Funding category for misusing EU funds to burn coal. Norway topped the Dirty Tax Gift leaderboard for using taxpayers’ money to support arctic oil exploration, while Ireland was crowned number one for giving Sneaky Special Treatment to peat-burning.

CAN Europe’s Director Wendel Trio explained: 
“These awards reveal that financial commitments are not consistent with Government promises to tackle climate change in line with the Paris Agreement. With the awards we expose a large amount of largely hidden subsidies for fossil fuels and call on all European Governments to phase them out urgently and no later than 2020. We also ask them to make their budgets 100% climate-friendly and implement the clean energy transition as soon as possible. They must put their people and environment ahead of polluting fossil fuels.”

Kuba Gogolewski from the Polish Foundation Development YES - Open-Pit Mines NO (Fundacja "Rozwój TAK - Odkrywki NIE") said: 
"Not paying for the damage done to society is simply cheating. Even more so when the exemption (e.g. article 10C of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme - ETS) is used to undermine the purpose that it was meant to achieve in the first place". This ETS exemption allows electricity installations in Central and Eastern Europe to emit greenhouse gases for free in exchange for investing the agreed amount of money into cleaning up their energy mix. However Poland misuses it to fund its old coal power plants instead.

Silje Ask Lundberg from Friends of the Earth Norway and Nina Jensen from WWF-Norway said: 
“Norwegian taxpayers pick up the bill for oil exploration even in the most vulnerable areas in the Arctic. This has to end. A renewable future has no room for fossil fuels. Norway should invest in climate solutions, not in actions that will take us further into a climate crisis.”

Meaghan Carmody from the Irish Stop Climate Chaos Coalition said: 
"The peatlands are Ireland's Amazon and we simply have to stop subsidizing their destruction. Burning peat produces just 9% of our electricity but 22% of our climate pollution from power generation. The Government needs to sit down with the company, the unions, the communities and ourselves right now to plan a rapid and just transition to a more sustainable future."
































Ceremony video (click on image to view)


Some of the early coverage of the awards

- Ends Europe: NGOs name and shame countries for fossil fuel subsidies.

- Green Party (IRL): Ireland named and shamed by EU environmental NGOs over fossil fuel subsidies. “Ireland was today named and shamed at the Fossil Fuel Subsidy Awards ceremony in Brussels, hosted by a coalition of European environmental NGOs, for the Government’s continued commitment to subsidising the burning of peat for electricity generation.”

- Counter Balance: Fossil Fuel Subsidies Award Winners Revealed. “Nine European countries have been named and shamed today in a public fossil fuel subsidies awards ceremony in Brussels. From 10 April until 8 May, the public voted on the deadliest, dirtiest and sneakiest subsidies to fossil fuels in Europe.”





- New Europe: EP Committees endorse 40% target on climate action, but MEPs fall short of banning fossil fuel subsidies. “Markus Trilling said, “By introducing a climate proofing tool for the entire EFSI the European Parliament finally acknowledges the obligations stemming from the Paris Climate Agreement, namely to shift financial flows and investments in order limit climate change to 1.5C. However, the European Parliament missed out on the most straightforward way to achieve compliance with the climate protection requirements, namely to ban fossil fuel subsidies.”

- Public Finance International: Europe continues to subsidise coal industry, says ODI. “Ten of Europe’s major economies hand out €6.3bn ($6.9bn) in coal subsidies every year, including €1bn ($1.1bn) in funds intended for low-carbon sources, according to a UK think-tank.”

- SeeNews: EIB to provide up to 30 mln euro funding for Bulgaria-Serbia gas link. “The European Investment Bank (EIB) intends to provide financing of up to 30 million euro ($33.8 million) for the construction of a gas interconnection between Serbia and Bulgaria in 2018, a senior EIB official has said.”

- European Commission approves state aid for French gas-fired power plant.


- The Argus (UK): Greens: A message of hope in uncertain times. “The ten-point Green Guarantee published online Mon Monday 22 promises (...) to replace fracking, coal power stations, and subsidies to fossil fuels and nuclear energy with “the clean green renewable energy of the future”
- Nord Stream 2 downplays the threat of Denmark's draft law



- Euractiv: EU should pave the way for G20 fossil fuel subsidy phase-out. “The EU must step up and lead the push for the world’s big economies to end fossil fuel subsidies, writes Maeve McLynn.”

- Climate Action Programme: Over 280 global investors appeal to G7 to stand by Paris Agreement. “A total of 282 global investors – representing more than $17 trillion in assets – have appealed to G7 heads of state to adhere to and drive the implementation of their commitments under the Paris Agreement.”

- Global voices call for fossil fuels divestment. “Activists have started an eight-day push to get individuals and institutions to divest from oil, gas and coal corporations. Investing in the fossil fuel industry equals pumping money into climate change, they say.”

- The Vulnerable 20 (V20) finance ministers said in their Communique after their meeting with G20 finance ministers: “We call for market distorting fossil fuel production subsidies to be removed immediately and no later than 2020, and urge the G20 to set such as adopt a clear timeframe for fossil fuel subsidy elimination. Fossil fuel consumption subsidies need to be checked rigorously whether they provide an actual benefit to the poor, and subsequently should be replaced worldwide without harm to those relying on them for their basic energy needs.” The Chair's Summary of the V20-G20 Finance Ministers' Meeting also mentioned: "Members present at the meeting also highlighted the importance of removing inefficient fossil fuel subsidies that are inconsistent with sustainable development. They also strongly supported the decision by V20 countries to establish carbon pricing in their countries by 2025."

- Politico: “OECD links climate and economic growth: The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development on Tuesday published a report saying it makes economic sense for G20 member states to combine climate policies with regular economic policy, and that doing so could add 1 percent to their average economic output by 2021. “There is no economic excuse for not acting on climate change, and the urgency to act is high,” said OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría in Berlin. The organization said that infrastructure investments over the next 10-15 years will determine whether the goals of the Paris climate agreement can be achieved.” It also mentions fossil fuel subsidy reform and the Just Transition. Read the report here: "Investing in Climate, Investing in Growth"

- Reuters: Innovative finance needed to find $300 billion a year for climate losses. “With money for action on climate change already in short supply, an estimated $300 billion a year needed to help countries deal with unavoidable climate losses will have to come from innovative new sources, such as a financial transaction tax or carbon tax, researchers say.”

- 'These are the 9 Catholic Institutions that just divested from fossil fuels: It’s the largest joint Catholic divestment in history'

- Joint UN Environment/World Bank "Roadmap for a Sustainable Financial System": summary released for consultation.




CAN Europe:


ODI's new report "Cutting Europe's lifelines to coal: tracking subsidies in 10 countries

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"This report reviews subsidies to coal in 10 countries that produce 84% of Europe’s energy-related greenhouse gas emissions: France, the Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Italy, Hungary, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain and UK. It is accompanied by individual briefs for each of the ten countries setting out where subsidies to coal remain.

The research finds that despite significant commitments to address climate change, fossil fuel subsidies and air pollution, all ten countries reviewed still provided some form of subsidy to coal, in the form of budgetary support or tax breaks, in 2016. In aggregate, the 10 countries reviewed have provided €6.3 billion per year in subsidies to coal (on average for the 2005 to 2016 period), across a total of 65 subsidies identified.

The report recommends that:

  • governments take measures to ensure that mechanisms intended to support the energy transition do not support coal;
  • that remaining subsidies must be focussed on ensuring a just transition for workers and communities; and
  • that governments must increase transparency and accountability when it comes to meeting existing subsidy phase-out commitments."


Friends of the Earth Europe: Hiding in plain sight: how the gas industry influences European energy policy

Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL): EU limits permission to pollute for dirty coal

Counter Balance:

CEE Bankwatch: The winners and losers of climate action at the European Investment Bank




CEE Bankwatch:

OCI: Who really pays for BP’s arts sponsorship?

DanChurchAid, CARE Denmark and Oxfam IBIS: Danish Climate Finance  



The European Parliament expressed its concerns about the European Investment Bank support to gas infrastructure (the EIB is notably considering a EUR 3 bn loan to the Southern Gas Corridor): “Calls on the EIB to re-assess the attention that it specifically devotes to gas infrastructure projects, especially as gas demand in Europe is declining while new large-scale plans to build new pipelines and LNG terminals are emerging; expresses concern that the EIB investments in gas infrastructure could lead to investments in stranded assets;”. Read Counter Balance’s press release here.

CEE Bankwatch: Why the EBRD should not finance the Southern Gas Corridor

Nordic Council of Ministers and IISD: Making the Switch: From fossil fuel subsidies to sustainable energy





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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