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‘All frills and no filling’

EU sustainable investment plan ‘falls far short’, says WWF
Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod
‘All frills and no filling’

On Tuesday (14 January) the European Commission published its plan for unlocking €1 trillion of sustainable investments over 10 years – but according to WWF it is ‘little more than pretty packaging of an empty box’.

‘All talk and no trousers’

New money is essential to help the EU get climate neutral, protect and restore its endangered nature and move to a sustainable economy. Yet the Sustainable European Investment Plan only brings together funds that already exist.

This is a far cry from what is needed to bring about the Commission’s European Green Deal, and lead the way to a truly sustainable Europe.

‘This investment plan shows the Commission to be all talk and no trousers. While claiming to raise green ambition, the Commission fails to offer any of the new public money that is crucial to turn such ambitions into reality. Both the amount spent today on climate and environment and future spending targets must be massively ramped up, to finance the way to a sustainable Europe.’

Economist at WWF European Policy Office

A European Green Deal

The €1 trillion figure would be made up of public and private finance. The public part would come from three existing sources.

First of all is the EU multi-annual budget, which is still being negotiated. It has a 25% climate spending target compared with the 50% climate and environment spending target proposed by WWF.

The second source is the InvestEU fund, which has already been agreed. It aims to trigger €650 billion for investment and innovation. Under the current rules, 30% must be spent on climate.

Lastly, the European Investment Bank (EIB), which recently adopted a new target of 50% for climate and environment by 2025.

In the next few months, the European Commission will develop specific parts of the Plan. For example, it will consider how the EU taxonomy can be used in the context of the European Green Deal. It will also table a legislative proposal for a public sector loan facility with the EIB in March 2020, for concessional loans to the public sector.

A just transition

The path to a climate neutral Europe became a little easier last week (14 January), with the European Commission’s proposal for a fund to help regions reach climate neutrality.

The ‘just transition mechanism’ aims to mobilise up to €100 billion to support workers and their communities in regions whose economies are based on carbon-intensive activities, like coal mining.

‘A climate neutral Europe needs everyone to play their part. The proposed just transition mechanism is an important step towards making that happen. But a ‘just transition’ is not ‘just’ if regions are locked into unviable fossil fuels. It is not a ‘transition’ if there is no deadline for getting climate neutral. MEPs and EU Member States must improve the proposal so that regions show how and by when they will get free from gas, oil and coal.’

Energy Policy Officer at WWF European Policy Office

The mechanism requires regional just transition plans to be compatible with EU climate and energy goals. This means Member States have no excuse not to sign up for climate neutrality.

However, the mechanism is not clear enough on the need for regional plans to include timelines for the phase out of fossil fuels, including a phase-out date for coal of 2030 or earlier. MEPs and EU Member States must step up its ambition to deliver a truly just transition.

Click here to read our article about the European Green Deal.

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