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.”
Nicolas Derobert, CAN Europe Communications Coordinator, +32 483 62 18 88, firstname.lastname@example.org
Background briefing about each winner and country-specific visuals can be found here.
Visit the Fossil Fuel Subsidies Awards website.
Definitions: similar to the World Trade Organisation (WTO), we argue that any form of government action or public intervention which lowers the cost of fossil fuel energy production or consumption can be defined as a subsidy. This includes direct funding (e.g. for coal mines’ operations) and tax exemptions (e.g. on diesel fuel), preferential loans and guarantees from public banks, and giving favourable access to resources, infrastructure and land. In addition, environmental degradation, air pollution and health costs stemming from extracting and burning fossil fuels are not carried by the industry but paid by society. Therefore, these ‘external costs’ are also considered as fossil fuel subsidies.
The nominations process was carried out by a jury consisted of CAN Europe, CEE Bankwatch Network, Counter Balance, Friends of the Earth Europe, Green Budget Europe(GBE), Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL), Oil Change International, Overseas Development Institute, WWF European Policy Office.
Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe is Europe’s largest coalition working on climate and energy issues. With over 130 member organisations in more than 30 European countries – representing over 44 million citizens – CAN Europe works to prevent dangerous climate change and promote sustainable climate and energy policy in Europe. Follow CAN Europe on Facebook and on Twitter.