Draft EU ‘green recovery’ plan amid clash over natural gas

Sallie Anderson

The European Commission’s recovery plan from the coronavirus pandemic will provide concern to structure renovation, renewables and hydrogen in addition to to tidy movement and waste management, according to a draft file seen by EUobserver.

“For climate change, there is no vaccine. This is why Europe must now invest in a clean future,” commission president Ursula von der Leyen informed MEPs previously this month, when she assured to make the Green Offer the foundation of the EU’s recovery plan.

Following weeks of speculation and political infighting, the EU executive will reveal this Wednesday (27 May) its recovery plan proposition – which will be moneyed by the bloc’s long-lasting budget and EU recovery fund.

Nevertheless, the European Parliament has actually currently threatened to ban the proposition if MEPs are neglected from developing and supervising the EU recovery fund.

The draft of the ‘green recovery’ shows that the commission wishes to mobilise EUR91 bn annually to reach, together with other sources of financing, EUR350 bn yearly financial investments and fund roof photovoltaic panels, insulation or sustainable heating unit of structures – although social real estate, schools and health centers will be provided concern.

The commission likewise wishes to enhance sustainable transport and wise movement, purchasing tidy vehicles (a EUR20 bn plan), the roll-out of electric-charging areas throughout Europe plus biking facilities, while funding the modernisation and digitalisation of rail facilities.

Nevertheless, Greenpeace, WWF and other NGOs knocked any type of public financing for carmakers and other contaminating markets connected to green dedications.

The commission likewise anticipates the coronavirus crisis to alter movement practices “making reductions of shorthaul flights likely and a shift to high-speed train connections necessary”.

Also, the recovery plan intends to modernise the bloc and digitalise’s waste management and the farming sector to increase the EU’s durability and to lower EU’s dependence on 3rd countries.

Nevertheless, essential steps – such as targets for waste decrease for particular streams and the harmonisation of the EU’s recycling design – are just anticipated in 2022.

Green vs Grey hydrogen

On The Other Hand, the European solar and wind markets are predicted to shirk by 20 and 33 percent this year respectively, due to the disturbance triggered by the coronavirus pandemic.

To broaden renewable resource, the EU’s executive is thinking about an EU tender plan for sustainable electrical power tasks of 2 years, plus EUR10 bn extra assistance for member states co-financed with the European Financial Investment Bank.

“Without sustained growth of the renewables market, there is no future for clean hydrogen in Europe while sustainable hydrogen technology has a critical role to play in decarbonising the economy,” checks out the draft file.

As a result, the commission means to introduce a “1 million tonne of clean hydrogen commitment” – although the production of green hydrogen (from renewable resource sources) is still considerably greater than that of grey hydrogen (from natural gas).

To do so, the commission will advance an unique tender plan to support tidy hydrogen production, and provide concern to the fertiliser market and refineries, where grey hydrogen might be changed more quickly.

‘ Stranded possessions’?

On the other hand, 8 member states – Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Slovakia – have actually protected the role of natural gas in the shift towards environment neutrality, amid worries over the huge financial investment required for renewables.

“When replacing solid fossil fuels, natural gas and other gaseous fuels such as bio-methane and decarbonised gases can reduce emissions significantly,” checks out the file seen by EUobserver.

Although natural gas assists countries to phase out coal power, methane emissions that happen throughout the whole fossil-gas supply chain add to 25 percent of the global warming experienced today.

Ecological activists alerted eastern and main member states over greenwashing and future difficulties.

“Continuing investing in gas infrastructure to transport loosely defined decarbonised or low carbon gases would be a waste of EU taxpayers money ending up in stranded assets,” stated Esther Bollendorff, organizer at NGO Environment Action Network.

“Europe’s future energy infrastructure planning gives an opportunity for sustainable economic recovery and accelerating the transition to climate neutrality with a complete phase-out of fossil gas by 2035,” she added.

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