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EU outlines funding for Green Deal

By CHEN WEIHUA in Brussels | China Daily | Updated: 2020-01-16 09:31
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Private sector seen as key contributor to 1-trillion-euro plan against climate change

The European Commission on Tuesday unveiled the funding details for an ambitious 1-trillion-euro ($1.1 trillion) investment plan over the next decade to make Europe the first climate-neutral continent by 2050.

The plan, officially known as the European Green Investment and Just Transition Mechanism, will include money from both public and private sources.

About half of the 1 trillion euros is expected to come from the EU's long-term budget, with national governments contributing 100 billion euros and the private sector providing 300 billion euros.

"The transformation ahead of us is unprecedented. And it will only work if it is just-and if it works for all," European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Tuesday.

"We will support our people and our regions that need to make bigger efforts in this transformation, to make sure that we leave no one behind," she said, adding that the plan to mobilize at least 1 trillion euros will unleash a green investment wave.

The European Parliament election in 2019 witnessed overwhelming support from its citizens to step up the fight against climate change. The now 17-year-old Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg in late 2018 sparked a youth climate movement that has swept European cities. The European Parliament voted on Nov 28 to declare a climate emergency.

Von der Leyen has made the climate fight her top priority. She unveiled the European Green Deal on Nov 11, just 11 days after taking office. The deal seeks to make Europe the first climate-neutral continent by the middle of the century.

So far, Poland is the only EU member state that has not agreed to the EU agenda on achieving the carbon neutrality goal, citing its economy's heavy reliance on coal. About 80 percent of Poland's power is reportedly generated from coal.

The EU green investment plan includes a 100 billion euro Just Transition Fund to help countries like Poland during the transition.

European Commission Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal Frans Timmermans said the necessary transition toward climate neutrality is going to improve people's well-being and make Europe more competitive.

"But it will require more efforts from citizens, sectors and regions that rely more on fossil fuels than others," he said.

He described the 100 billion euro Just Transition Fund as "our pledge of solidarity and fairness".

The EU hopes to have its climate law by March this year to help achieve the carbon neutrality goals.

Members of the European Parliament were scheduled this week to further debate the Green Deal and vote on a resolution on Wednesday.

Sebastian Mang, Greenpeace EU's climate and energy adviser, said on Tuesday that if the funding is really meant to promote a green transition, it must only be available to governments that are committed to that transition and have a clear plan to ditch coal.

"If they want the cash, the likes of Poland and the Czech Republic will have to prove they are serious about tackling the climate emergency," he said in a news release posted on the organization's website.

"For the European Green Deal to be successful, all funding, including from the EU budget, needs to stop supporting fossil fuels, nuclear energy and other destructive industries," Mang said.

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