More than 60 organizations, including Solar Heat Europe, have sent an open letter at the initiative of WWF and Climate Action Network Europe, to all MEPs in the European Parliament’s Committee on Regional Development (REGI), urging them to vote against including gas in the Fund.
The European Parliament’s Committee on Regional Development (REGI) is voting on the EU Just Transition Fund – which aims to support EU regions in their transition to climate neutrality – on 6 July. They have the chance to follow the EU Council, which last week agreed to fully exclude fossil fuels from funding. The Parliament voted to exclude fossil fuels from EU regional funds in March 2019. Yet despite this, there is a potential unholy alliance between the ECR, EPP and Renew to push for a big loophole which would allow some gas power and infrastructure to get funding.
Why does it matter?
The gas industry is pushing hard for Just Transition Fund money. This would directly contradict the concept of a just transition to a zero carbon economy. Fossil gas has no role as a transitional fuel: it accelerates climate change and leaked methane emissions can make it worse for the climate than coal. There is also zero evidence that it would create many or decent jobs, while every $1 million (USD) invested in renewables creates three times more jobs than in fossil fuels.
Last but not least, giving priority and money to gas projects would cement Europe’s future in a gas lock-in over the next 40-50 years and waste up to €29 billion of EU taxpayers’ money in stranded assets.
What do the organizations want?
To truly deliver, the EU Just Transition Mechanism should do three key things:
Exclude gas and other fossil fuels – only projects consistent with a sustainable and climate neutral Europe by 2040 should be financed
Require plans to be aligned with EU climate targets to access funds, reward climate ambition and include coal phase-out dates of 2030 latest, and gas phase-out dates of 2035 latest
Encourage and enable effective partnerships by supporting transparency and meaningful engagement, including with civil society, local governments and trade unions