Commission wants budget to prioritise climate

The European Commision wants 60% of the EU’s key infrastructure fund spent on contributing to climate objectives. It has proposed that the €42 billion Connecting Europe Facility would have €30 billion to co-finance investments in transport, and that funding for electricity transmission, electricity storage, smart grids, renewable energy, rail, and clean urban transport would be considered to be 100% “climate spending”.

It also wants to incentivise so-called “synergy” projects that impact more than one of the following sectors: transport, energy and digital. This could accelerate investment in smart charging, smart grids, and energy storage. The proposals are part of the Commission’s draft EU budget for the period 2021-2027. It will soon be discussed by national governments and the European Parliament.

T&E’s freight policy officer, Samuel Kenny, said: ‘The focus of the Commission's spending plan is exactly right: smart electromobility powered by clean, renewable electricity. Combined with national but also private spending, this plan can help build the infrastructure needed to make the e-mobility revolution happen in Europe.’

However, there was disappointment at the proposal for gas to also be eligible for EU funding and be counted towards the climate spending goals. Gas vehicles have no meaningful climate benefits compared to conventional vehicles, a 2016 T&E study found. It also said biomethane can be a good low-carbon fuel but cannot be produced sustainably at large scales and should therefore be focused on providing local or regional solutions.

Samuel Kenny concluded: ‘It’s worrying that some within the European Commission still seem to think the EU needs to help the gas industry create a market for CNG and LNG  vehicles. That makes no sense at all from a climate, air quality or energy security point of view subsidies to fossil fuels must end and are a disgraceful waste of public money.’

Last month A three-way partnership of investors, utility companies and environmental NGOs told the Commission to explicitly commit to zero-emission mobility and power generation. The group of 11 entities representing utility companies, investors and NGOs from across Europe also said zero-emission projects should be prioritised in the Connecting Europe Facility and the European Structural and Investment Funds, both initiatives that promote transport links within the EU and which have in the past attracted money for environmentally harmful projects.