Mon. Apr 22nd, 2019

Does the EU still offer carbon subsidies?

¿La UE aún ofrece ayudas al carbón?

On 2 April, eight MEPs from the eight political groups currently in the European Parliament participated in a debate ahead of the European elections organized by the newspaper Politico Europe. There were two main themes: climate change and migration policies in the EU. The team of Europa Fact Checking of La Vanguardia has studied some of the statements that were made.

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Subsidies persist

In the first section of the debate, the MEP of the Greens Thomas Waitz He said: "We need concrete actions, we must stop giving subsidies to coal and fossil fuels."

First of all, we must clarify to what extent coal is present in the EU. The data are the following. It is part of the economy still of 41 European regions and 12 countries, six of which need at least 20% of the fossil to meet their energy demand, and represents 16% of gross domestic consumption in the EU.

Coal is also the most abundant fuel in the EU and employs 240,000 workers, 180,000 of which work in coal mines and 60,000 in mixed plants. Coal still accounts for a quarter of the total electricity production produced in the Twenty-eight, and is very important for the manufacture of aluminum, although the production and consumption of coal has been reduced in recent decades.

The EU committed to ending coal subsidies. In 2010, a decision was launched that would only authorize state aid to mines to facilitate their closure. However, as confirmed by an OECD report, all EU countries that are part of that organization maintained some kind of subsidy for fossil fuels and, in fact, some type of aid will continue to be maintained at the moment.


Poland, the exception

In the same debate the MEP of the European People's Party Adina Iona Valean He said: "We must stop being hypocrites and stop burning coal, as Parliament has asked to put a limit of 550 grams of CO2 / kWh."

Indeed, the EU institutions reached an agreement last December so that after 2025 the subsidies are ended To the coal of the power plants (known as capacity payments), only those that generate less than 550 grams of CO2 per kilowatt per hour can benefit. Those that reach this limit will be forced to close. The new plants will have to meet this limit in 2020 and the old ones in 2025. The only country that will not be obliged will be Poland (a country very dependent on coal with 80% of its energy), who will still be able to apply the aid in cases that The contracts have already been signed and the subsidies are already approved.


Between 1995 and 2015 the emissions of new cars have been reduced by 36%

The same MEP also said that "between 1995 and 2015 has been able to reduce the emissions of new cars by 36%." This figure has been verified according to the data provided by the European Environment Agency and confirmed to be true. In 1995, on average, new cars emitted 186 grams of carbon dioxide per kilometer and reduced in 2015 to 119.6 grams, this is 35.7% less.

However, the transport sector is the only one that has not significantly reduced its greenhouse gas emissions in the EU since 1990. According to the European Environment Agency road transport is the one that generates most of the emissions, represents 72.9% of all types of transport and 20% of the total emissions registered in the EU.

The European Parliament approved at the end of March that new cars reduce polluting emissions by 37.5% (compared to 2021 levels) and new vans by 31%. Manufacturers whose average emissions exceed the established limit will have to pay for it.

Coal was historically one of the economic pillars of the continent to the point that it became the embryo of what is now the European Union, heir to the CECA (Economic Community of Coal and Steel) created in 1951 by France, West Germany, Italy, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.

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