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EU Recovery Money Should Fund Green Economy, Not Polluters

Originally published on the Transport & Environment (T&E)

Civil society representatives called on European leaders meeting in Brussels today to use taxpayers’ money to fund a just and green recovery, not polluters. In a meeting on the eve of the European Council, representatives of Avaaz, Greenpeace and Transport & Environment (on behalf of the Green10) handed over a petition signed by over 1,300,000 Europeans [1] to Rudy Volders, Chief of the Integrated Europe team of European Council President Charles Michel.

European leaders are meeting to decide on a coronavirus recovery package – the EU alone will make €1.85 trillion available through the EU’s budget and recovery fund [2]. These funds must not line the pockets of polluting industries, like aviation, which have already sought an unprecedented €34.4 billion in government bailouts since the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis, without binding environmental conditions [3].

To warn against the real risk that the money will sustain the business practices of polluting industries, European citizens held banners reading “Our money – our future” and “1,367,397 for a green and just recovery” in multiple languages, against a backdrop of several bags of cash to symbolise the €1.85 trillion that are on the table.

The organizations members of the Green10, plus Avaaz, Sum of Us and WeMove also sent a letter [4] to EU ministers and heads of state and government, outlining what activities the recovery package should not support, and what a green recovery should look like.

Greenpeace EU climate policy adviser Sebastian Mang said:

European leaders should use public money to fund a green and just future for all, not to keep polluting industries on life support. The last remaining forests are going up in smoke, the polar caps are melting at an alarming speed, and millions are demanding action – obsolete and polluting economic activities, like aviation, fossil fuels, factory farming, have no place in Europe’s investments for the future. Governments have a duty to agree clear rules and conditions for how our money will support Europe’s green regeneration, while investing in green jobs, renewable energy, public transport and ecological farming.”

Pascal Vollenweider, Avaaz Campaign Director says:

Corona is the ultimate trial by fire for EU leaders. Today they must take sides, and decide whether to spend trillions to kickstart the green growth transition we desperately need, or prop up the polluters locking us into the dirty old economy. It’s our money, and 1.3 million Europeans want to see it invested into a clean, safe future.”

Transport & Environment director of sustainable finance Luca Bonaccorsi said:

There’s been a lot of lip service to the green recovery, but the EU Recovery Plan fails to provide even the most basic environmental safeguards. Fossil fuels, combustion engine vehicles, road building… European money can basically be used for anything in the Commission proposal. This is the moment of truth: enough talk, we need a clear green spending target and a list of things EU money cannot be used for”.

The International Energy Agency, as well as leading economists, are among those to have called for a post-Covid-19  “green recovery” that “builds back better”, by cutting CO2 emissions, while boosting the economy. According to Agora Energiewende, only €80 billion of the €1.85 trillion are blocked off for climate protection, while €2.4 trillion are needed before 2027 to meet the EU’s 2030 climate target.

Protected bicycle lane

Images: Bike-only roads with green spaces on the side quite common in Netherlands, Groningen City Center, courtesy of Zach Shahan

 
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