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New Environment Objectives Will End Fossil Fuel Subsidies

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A deal on a new environment programme with objectives for 2030 has just been agreed on in the European Parliament and it has set a deadline on phasing out fossil fuel subsidies.

“Strengthening environmentally positive incentives as well as phasing out environmentally harmful subsidies, in particular fossil fuel subsidies, will be assured by developing a binding legislative framework,” an EU report said.

Parliament’s lead negotiators agreed on an informal deal on the eighth General Union Environment Action Programme (EAP) with the Council and its purpose is to guide the EU’s environmental policy to 2030 and align it with the European Green Deal.

However, let’s break down these long-worded conferences, shall we?

1. What are Environment Action Programmes?

The EAP provides a general policy framework for the EU’s environment policy in which the most important medium and long-term goals are defined and set out in a basic strategy which sometimes includes concrete measures.

Environment Action Programmes date back to a conference of Heads of State and Government held in October 1972 which agreed that a common Community environmental policy is essential.

It also called on the Commission to develop an EAP and the 1992 Treaty of Maastricht created a contractual basis for the adoption of these programmes.

Then, when the Treaty of Lisbon (which amended the two treaties that form the constitutional basis of the EU) entered into force in 2007, the contractual basis was set out in Article 192 (3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

Under this provision, Environment Action Programmes are issued on the proposal of the Commission by the European Parliament and the Council in an ordinary legislative procedure, and are thus formal legislative acts.

So far, eight EAPs have been adopted with durations ranging from three to 10 years, and the most recent one was established on 1st December 2021.

2. So, what’s different about the eighth EAP?

The eighth Environment Action Programme primarily builds on the European Green Deal.

It therefore ensures member states’ and parliament’s commitment to environmental and climate action until 2030, guided by a long-term vision to 2050 of wellbeing for all.

It further contains six thematic priority objectives that should be achieved by 2030:

• Climate change mitigation to attain the 2030 greenhouse gas emission reduction target;
• Adaptation to climate change;
• Advancing towards a wellbeing economy that gives back to the planet more than it takes;
• Pursuing zero-pollution, including in relation to harmful chemicals;
• Protecting, preserving and restoring biodiversity and;
• Significantly reducing key environmental pressures related to the EU’s material and consumption footprints including through EU 2030 reduction targets.

To secure full cooperation, the Commission will monitor, assess and report on the progress of the EU and member states annually with regard to achieving the priority objectives.

More specifically, a summary dashboard and indicators measuring ‘beyond GDP’ will be developed to guide policy making. The assessment will also be made publicly available and an annual exchange of views by EU institutions will take place.

A mid-term review of the progress achieved must also be carried out by 31 March 2024 and, if needed to reach the priority objectives by 2030, a legislative proposal with a list of additional actions should be put forward by the Commission for the period after 2025.

One of the main objectives of this programme is the setting of a deadline for the phasing out of fossil fuel subsidies.

3. How exactly are they going to do this?

Basically, the aim is to strengthen the environmentally positive incentives as well as phasing out environmentally harmful subsidies, in particular fossil fuels.

They will further be assured by developing a legally binding framework to monitor and report on member states’ progress towards phasing these subsidies out.

Meanwhile, a deadline to phase out fossil fuel subsidies will be set in compliance with the ambition of limiting global warming to 1.5°C set in the EU Green Deal.

4. Woah back up, what exactly is the Green Deal?

The European Green Deal came into force in 2012 and it aims to improve the well-being and the health of citizens and future generations through a €1.8 trillion investment.

Its goal is to provide: fresh air, clean water, healthy soil and biodiversity; renovated, energy efficient buildings; healthy and affordable food; more public transport; cleaner energy and cutting-edge clean technological innovation; longer lasting products that can be repaired, recycled and reused; future-proof jobs and skills training for the transition and; globally competitive and resilient industry.

It further has a 2030 and 2050 climate target plan with the former aiming to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at 50 to 55%, and the latter aiming to achieve climate neutrality in all of Europe.

However, the 2050 target date has come under heat for being one that state leaders can hide behind since they’ll either be retired or dead by then. Meaning that they won’t have to endure the scrutiny or suffer the consequences of not reaching the expected standards.

Also, the EU Greens, Greenpeace and Climate Action Network Europe cited scientists’ evidence and revealed that the 50% emission reduction goal of 2030 is not near fast enough for the EU to become climate neutral by 2050.

They explained that climate change is happening faster than anyone five years ago predicted and the current Green Deal goals are insufficient to meet the 2°C and 1.5°C targets. These groups further urged the commission to propose a reduction of at least 65% by 2030 and climate neutrality by 2040.

If parliament and council formally endorse the agreement, the new and Environment Action Programme shall be in place until 31 December 2030.

This article is part of a content series called Ewropej. This is a multi-newsroom initiative part-funded by the European Parliament to bring the work of the EP closer to the citizens of Malta and keep them informed about matters that affect their daily lives. This article reflects only the author’s view. The European Parliament is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.

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Ana’s a university student who loves a heated debate, she’s very passionate about humanitarian issues and justice. In her free time you’ll probably catch her binge watching way too many TV shows or thinking about her next meal.

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