Welcome to EURACTIV’s Green Brief. Below you’ll discover the most recent roundup of reports on power and surroundings from throughout Europe. You can subscribe to the weekly e-newsletter right here.
French President Emmanuel Macron might want to elevate his environmental sport within the coming 5 years after his first mandate was marked by grave errors on carbon taxation and stagnation on renewable energies.
Macron’s first authorities generated nice expectations in 2017 when Nicolas Hulot, a former TV presenter and environmental activist, was nominated as state minister in command of “ecological and solidarity transition”.
At first, Macron appeared like a champion of local weather coverage. Just weeks after his nomination, Hulot stepped up France’s ambitions, with plans to purpose for carbon neutrality by 2050 and finish the sale of fossil fuel-powered vehicles by 2040.
The French president additionally took possession of the worldwide struggle towards local weather change, with the organisation of the “One Planet Summit” in December 2017, which created hope amongst local weather activists that change may actually be underneath approach.
But it quickly began to go awry.
First, Hulot shocked the president by saying his shock resignation in August 2018, only one 12 months into the job, citing the load of France’s established lobbies to justify his determination. There isn’t any “vision” or “roadmap” to handle world points like local weather change or the collapse of biodiversity, which require decided and coordinated motion by the entire authorities, Hulot complained.
Hulot’s shock resignation was solely the beginning of Macron’s issues with inexperienced insurance policies. The worst got here simply weeks later, when the “Yellow Vests” motion started.
The spontaneous protests began in October 2018 in response to a carbon tax launched on petroleum merchandise. They quickly morphed right into a wider anti-government motion, which noticed violent riots erupting within the streets of Paris and different cities throughout the nation, threatening to topple the federal government.
The carbon tax was comparatively modest, resulting in a median rise of simply €0.10 within the value of diesel and petrol on the pump.
Yet, it turned out to be Macron’s gravest environmental coverage mistake. In the months that adopted, the federal government needed to again down and froze the reform, admitting it had failed to think about the implications of the carbon tax on the poorest in society.
Further disillusions adopted. In response to the “Yellow Vests”, Macron launched an bold “citizen convention on climate change” and created a nationwide “ecological defence council” to advise him on environmental points.
The citizen conference produced 149 proposals to resolve the local weather disaster however 80% of them have been deserted and solely 18 have been adopted unchanged, to the nice disappointment of environmental activists.
Perhaps extra worrying, France can be trailing behind on its clear power objectives, with solely 25% of the nation’s electrical energy produced from renewables, far behind its 40% goal for 2030.
France’s foot-dragging on renewables is especially obvious with offshore wind. Not a single offshore wind farm has been constructed within the nation, regardless of tenders concluded in 2011, 2013 and 2016 – all previous to Macron’s first mandate.
On photo voltaic, France’s backwardness is baffling. Despite cheap prices and constructive perceptions from most of the people, photo voltaic PV represents a measly 3% of electrical energy manufacturing in France, approach behind Germany, which has much less beneficiant sunshine. France now dangers being ridiculed by the German authorities, which goals to have photo voltaic on each appropriate rooftop throughout the nation.
Meanwhile, environmental coverage fell down on Macron’s listing of priorities. When the COVID-19 pandemic broke out in 2020, the French president shifted to crisis-fighting mode, relegating the surroundings to an afterthought.
Admittedly, Macron was instrumental in placing collectively the EU’s historic €800 billion restoration plan, together with its inexperienced part. But the COVID disaster additionally marked the tip of main French environmental coverage initiatives on a nationwide degree.
Macron’s solely main coverage announcement got here initially of the 2022 presidential election marketing campaign. During a ten February speech, the French president vowed to deploy extra nuclear, wind and photo voltaic than ever earlier than, pleasing each the pro-nuclear and pro-renewables camps in France.
Overall, Macron’s first mandate was disappointing to many observers and by no means matched the hopes initially raised in the beginning of his first mandate.
The new-old president is nicely conscious of these shortcomings. Before his re-election, he acknowledged the “powerful message” despatched by French voters within the first spherical when 21% of them backed hard-left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon and his ecology-heavy programme.
As nicely as promising to make France “the first major nation to abandon gas, oil and coal”, Macron stated he would appoint a first-rate minister who could be formally tasked with “ecological planning” throughout the totally different authorities ministries – a transfer that would break the political silos and entrenched views that ultimately led to Hulot’s resignation.
All these bulletins are to be welcomed, although critics may argue that they arrive 5 years late. Macron now must implement them swiftly and make up for the misplaced time.
– Frédéric Simon
PARIS. Macron looking out for France’s first ‘climate’ prime minister. Re-elected President Emmanuel Macron will, as promised, quickly title his new Prime Minister in command of “ecological planning”, although with the legislative election simply across the nook, the playing cards may quickly be reshuffled. Read extra.
MADRID. Spain, Portugal agree with EU Commission to restrict gasoline value. Wholesale electrical energy market gasoline costs will go from €90 to round €50 in May to profit Iberian prospects, in keeping with a “political agreement” with the European Commission, Spain and Portugal introduced on Tuesday. Read extra.
BUDAPEST. Hungarian billionaire slams authorities’s utility costs coverage. The authorities mustn’t pursue one among its flagship insurance policies of reducing utility costs, stated Sándor Csányi, CEO of Hungary’s largest lender OTP Bank, including that he anticipated excessive power costs to persist. Read extra.
PRAGUE | BRATISLAVA. Slovakia, Czechia to cease subsidising pure gasoline for heating. Reducing dependence on Russian pure gasoline requires halting subsidies on pure gasoline in central heating, stated the State Secretary of Slovakia’s financial system ministry, Karol Galek, as Czechia does the identical. Read extra.
THE HAGUE. Dutch to cease utilizing Russian gasoline by year-end. The Netherlands plans to finish its reliance on Russian gasoline by the tip of 2022 by specializing in saving power, sustainability, and importing power from different nations, Climate Minister Rob Jetten stated throughout a cupboard assembly on Friday, Dutch News stories. Read extra.
HELSINKI. Finland reduces electrical energy transmission from Russia. Finland has determined to limit the transmission capability in cross-border connections to Russia because it fears cyberattacks and different types of harassment if it applies for NATO membership. Read extra.
BRATISLAVA. Slovakia appears to home-grown uranium to chop Russian nuclear dependence. Uranium mining within the nation’s east may very well be an answer to reducing dependency on Russia’s nuclear gasoline provides, Economy Minister Richard Sulík has stated. Read extra.
SOFIA. Bulgaria negotiates gasoline independence from Russia. Bulgaria can be impartial of Russian gasoline provides and the one challenge to resolve earlier than signing a contract for different provides is the value, stated Democratic Bulgaria MP and deputy chairman of the power committee within the Parliament, Ivaylo Mirchevon, on Saturday earlier than BNT. Read extra.
TIRANA. Albania appears at gasification with a €4 billion price ticket. Amid the worldwide power disaster, exacerbated by the struggle in Ukraine, Albania is working to diversify its power sources, together with by introducing gasoline and wind energy, with the previous set to value as much as €4 billion to implement. Read extra.
VIENNA. Austrian oil big OMV stops Russian oil imports. Austria, one of many EU nations most reliant on Russian gasoline, has stopped importing and refining Russian crude oil as of March, a spokesperson for OMV confirmed. Read extra.
BRATISLAVA. Private corporations lead renewables growth in Slovakia. High power costs and poor perspective for the longer term have brought about a growth in photovoltaic power led primarily by non-public corporations, which are attempting to decrease their dependence on Russian gasoline, Denník N stories. Read extra.
HELSINKI AND TALLINN. Finland and Estonia bunk on floating LNG terminal to safe gasoline provide. Finland and Estonia have made a joint determination to lease a big LNG terminal ship of their pursuit of ending the usage of Russian gasoline. The undertaking introduced on 7 April is seemingly underway, although few particulars or specifics have been made public at this stage. Read extra.
THE HAGUE | BERLIN. Netherlands, Germany to start drilling for pure gasoline in Wadden Islands. Germany will work with the Dutch exploration and manufacturing firm, ONE-Dyas, to function a gasoline subject within the North Sea above Schiermonnikoog and the German Wadden island of Borkum, Dutch broadcaster NOS reported on Wednesday. Read extra.
BUDAPEST. Hungarians help lowering Russian gasoline use however wish to keep away from struggle. Over three-quarters of Hungarians need native power manufacturing and 0 dependence on Russian gasoline however wish to stay firmly out of the struggle, in keeping with polls printed on Wednesday, Telex reported. Read extra.
LISBON. Diesel manufacturing in Sines in danger attributable to Russian invasion. Diesel manufacturing at Galp’s refinery in Sines may very well be affected in May if alternate options are usually not discovered to make sure the provision of vacuum gasoline oil the corporate used to purchase from Russia, Andy Brown, the refinery’s chief government, stated on Wednesday. Read extra.
Majority emerges on ETS reform in European Parliament. Peter Liese, the German lawmaker in command of steering the EU carbon market reform proposal within the European Parliament, briefed journalists on Tuesday (26 April) concerning the state of play within the discussions among the many meeting’s principal political teams.
And it’s not wanting good for the European People’s Party (EPP), the centre-right political faction which Liese represents. According to him, “a majority” is rising within the Parliament’s surroundings committee (ENVI) – which is main the talks – to considerably elevate ambition. This group is comprised of the Greens, the Left, the Socialists and Democrats (S&D) and the centrist Renew Europe factions.
“There is a strong demand by these groups to be much more ambitious and to have more than 61% emission reduction” from ETS sectors, Liese stated. This would imply that the EU “would substantially overachieve” its 2030 greenhouse gasoline discount goal of 55%, he warned.
Liese challenged these calls for, saying he most popular sticking with the European Commission’s authentic proposal, tabled in July 2021. “61% is very demanding and we shouldn’t overdo it, especially in this time of crisis, where we need to be independent from Russia gas as soon as possible.”
With the struggle in Ukraine, EU nations are on the brink of restart coal-fired energy crops in case Russian gasoline provides are reduce. “At least for the next two, three years, I think we may be forced to use more coal to get rid of Russian gas,” Liese stated. “And that will of course be a challenge for the ETS,” he stated, warning towards strikes to extend the EU’s ambition.
Next steps. Liese stated additional talks are anticipated subsequent week, together with an open-ended assembly on Wednesday (4 May) the place representatives of political teams will convene “for as long as necessary” to discover a widespread place. The Parliament’s surroundings committee will vote on the Liese report on 17 May. A vote in plenary is anticipated in June. (Frédéric Simon | EURACTIV.com)
Talks on battery regulation to be concluded by summer time, says EU Commission official. The first spherical of negotiations between the European Parliament, the European Commission and EU nations on a brand new regulation protecting batteries has simply taken place and the French EU Council presidency is decided to maneuver shortly with the reform, in keeping with the EU government.
“Because of the incredible speed we need to put here, the Presidency announced in the first trialogue that there will be six more trialogues. So really, we’re looking at before the summer on the battery regulation,” stated Kerstin Jorna, the director basic, of the Commission’s business and inner market division (DG Grow) at an occasion on Monday (25 April).
EU taxonomy dangers taking part in into the palms of Russian oligarchs, warn Green MEPs. The European Parliament ought to reject the delegated act of the sustainable finance taxonomy that covers fossil gasoline when it’s voted on in July, in keeping with Ciarán Cuffe and Grace O’Sullivan, two Irish Green MEPs.
In an article printed by the Irish Times, they argue that the taxonomy must be voted down or it dangers taking part in “even further into the hands of despots and oligarchs”. “Placing fossil fuel investment on par with renewables is wrong, and greenwashing gas will delay the transition to clean energy. This will significantly undermine our plans for a green energy transition if successful, by incentivising construction of new gas plants with long lifespans,” they write. Read the full article right here. (Kira Taylor | EURACTIV.com)
Commission lays out roadmap to limit dangerous substances. On Monday (25 April), the European Commission printed a “Restrictions Roadmap” to point which dangerous chemical substances can be restricted underneath EU laws within the coming years. It prioritises restrictions for essentially the most dangerous substances to human well being and the surroundings, which have been specified by the Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability.
“These REACH restrictions aim to reduce [the] exposure of people and the environment to some of the most harmful chemicals, addressing a wide range of their uses – industrial, professional, and in consumer products,” stated surroundings commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius.
The European Environmental Bureau (EEB) estimates that the roadmap will imply hundreds of poisonous chemical compounds, together with flame retardants, PFAS and PVC, can be banned by 2030 within the greatest ever regulatory elimination of authorised chemical compounds. “What Von der Leyen’s Commission has announced today opens a new chapter in facing down the growing threat from harmful chemicals. This ‘great detox’ promises to improve the safety of almost all manufactured products and rapidly lower the chemical intensity of our schools, homes and workplaces,” stated EEB chemical compounds coverage supervisor Tatiana Santos.
Meanwhile, the chemical compounds business physique Cefic warned that “such restrictions may have significant impact on industry and value chains; and consequently, on products produced and used in Europe”. It provides that the chemical compounds business welcomes the elevated transparency on potential restrictions and requires the implementation course of to make sure “clarity of scope, consider risks and impacts on value chains, all based on the latest scientific advancements”. (Kira Taylor | EURACTIV.com)
27 APRIL. EU ETS: How to mitigate instability? Join this EURACTIV Virtual Conference to debate the doable impacts of extreme hypothesis on the functioning of the EU ETS market. What measures may very well be taken to mitigate the danger of extreme hypothesis, and extra broadly to stabilise allowances costs and enhance the EU ETS market functioning? Speakers embody Jytte Guteland MEP and Fabrizio Planta from ESMA. Full programme and registration right here. (Supported by PGE).
28 APRIL. Carbon removals – how greatest to implement and validate? Join this EURACTIV digital occasion to debate the regulatory framework that may foster belief in carbon removals. Independent measurement and verification are important to make sure that carbon removals have been correctly performed and that the carbon is successfully and completely faraway from the environment. Speakers embody Lukas Visek from the cupboard of EC vice-president Timmermans and Norbert Lins MEP. Programme and registration right here. (Supported by TIC Council)
29 APRIL. Circularity of bottles: contributing to the Green Deal. Join this EURACTIV Virtual Conference to debate what’s the perfect recipe for assembly round financial system and local weather goals and whether or not deposit return schemes are an environment friendly strategy to meet assortment and recycling targets for EU pure mineral and spring water producers. Speakers embody Martin Hojsík from the European Parliament’s surroundings committee and extra. Programme and registration right here. (Supported by Natural Mineral Waters Europe)
29 APRIL. Media Partnership: Initiatives for a sustainable business in Brazil. This webinar will cowl examples of sustainability within the Brazilian business. ORGANISED BY: The Embassy of Brazil in Berlin and ApexBrasil. Programme and registration right here.
10 MAY. Due diligence and sustainable sourcing: can a standard method for all sectors work? Join this EURACTIV Virtual Conference to debate accountable sourcing and due diligence. How can corporations greatest develop instruments and requirements that match the upcoming European laws? And how can the European Commission guarantee there’s a coherent method for all actors concerned? Speakers to be introduced quickly. (Supported by the Nickel Institute).
17 MAY. Sustainable and wholesome buildings – reaching the objectives of the EU Green Deal. Join this EURACTIV Virtual Conference to debate how the revision of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) can help a wholesome indoor local weather whereas accelerating a lower of power prices and decarbonising our buildings. Speakers to be introduced quickly. Programme and registration right here. (Supported by Velux).
17 MAY. A revised EPBD – sooner decarbonisation of the EU’s constructing inventory? Join this EURACTIV Hybrid Conference to debate what could be completed to enhance the prevailing regulatory framework to help an efficient decarbonisation course of within the constructing sector. Speakers to be introduced quickly. Programme and registration right here. (Supported by EdEn – Equilibre des Energies).
18 MAY. The European Commission will current its REPowerEU plan to interrupt away from Russian fossil fuels. This combines with a brand new “international partnerships and energy package”, consisting of:
- New technique on worldwide power engagement
- Joint Communication on a partnership with the Gulf
25-27 MAY. Meeting of G7 local weather and power ministers.
7 JUNE. Joint Communication on worldwide ocean governance.
15 JUNE. 2022 Strategic Foresight Report.
22 JUNE. Nature safety bundle (tbc):
- Sustainable use of pesticides – revision of the EU guidelines
- Protecting biodiversity: nature restoration targets
27 JUNE. Energy Council.
28 JUNE. Environment Council.
5 JULY. New design necessities and shopper rights for electronics (tbc).
20 JULY. Circular Economy Package 2:
- Policy framework for bio-based, biodegradable and compostable plastics
- Review of the Packaging and packaging waste directive to strengthen the important necessities for packaging and set up EU degree packaging waste prevention measures and targets
- Review of the Urban Wastewater Treatment directive
- Proposal for a Regulation on substantiating environmental claims utilizing the Product/ Organisation Environmental Footprint strategies (inexperienced claims)
Development of post-Euro 6/VI emission requirements for vehicles, vans, lorries and buses