July 15. 2024. 6:48

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The show ‘can’ go on

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Post elections, the EU’s climate advocacy space is forced to contend with an awkward reality: Contrary to its doom-laden warnings, the centre held, the far right is not in power, and progress remains possible.

Centre-right EPP, centre-left S&D, and liberal Renew scored a strong 400 seats and a comfortable majority to pass any negotiated climate policy.

Yes, right-wing parties grew. And the Greens did lose a quarter of their seats.

But the Parliament is far from done with climate action, even the most pessimistic observers found. Europe “can” carry on its green transition, climate group E3G commented on the eve of the election.

Dan Jørgensen, in charge of Denmark’s climate diplomacy, similarly found that the EU “can” continue to act as a positive force on climate issues globally.

Linda Kalcher, director at newcomer Brussels think-tank Strategic Perspectives, funded by the wider American climate philanthropy network, explained that “the far right made clear gains, but that doesn’t necessarily translate into more power”..

Their acknowledgement – and the use of “can” rather than other imperatives – implies that the European Parliament remains well capable of adopting progressive climate laws.

It also means that predictions of EU climate gridlock, which green groups painted on the wall to rouse their supporters before the election, were plain wrong. A right-wing anti-climate coalition with the support of the nationalist ECR of Italy’s Giorgia Meloni looks unlikely.

Instead, Commission president-hopeful Ursula von der Leyen headed to Berlin on Monday (10 June), saying that “independently of election results, climate change marches on” – a clear signal to the man beside her, EPP colleague and CDU leader Friedrich Merz, that the show would go on.

She went on to remind the journalists, and perhaps, via Merz, her wider EPP group, that the EPP manifesto contained a commitment “to fight climate change.”

“The course is set,” she closed. Von der Leyen knows that better than most, given that it was ultimately her Commission that committed Europe to cutting emissions by 55% by 2030, and to reaching net zero emissions by 2050.

Europe remains legally committed to clean energy and transport, and decarbonised industry.

From a climate perspective, the European Parliament looks rather unshaken.

The Greens, significantly humbled and diminished at the polls, have already announced their intention to work with von der Leyen – gone is their combative stance during the campaign.

Von der Leyen’s Green Deal will live on. Even if the de facto 2035 ban on new diesel and petrol cars is reversed, or if the ailing nature restoration law is put out of its misery, Europe will remain on a green course.

To get a glance into the mind of the machine, look to Laurence Tubiana, the well-connected CEO of the European Climate Foundation, who stressed that “halting” the green transition would “harm the EU’s competitiveness and global standing”.

All eyes should be on the national energy and climate plans (NECPs) for 2030, lost amid the hubbub: the deadline for EU countries to submit their final plans is 30 June.

The draft plans of some individual countries fall short of the EU’s climate ambitions, and the French are refusing to stick to the framework. And even if all current plans are translated into action, emission cuts would amount to just 51% rather than the 55% goal.

The final plans will be the real signal of whether Europe’s decarbonisation drive is on track.

Expect the advocacy machine to turn towards the 30 June deadline – because it should. The course has been set, but this will test whether the engines of the ship are in order.

EU rules on e-fuels threaten to create ‘CO2 tourism’

German Transport Minister Volker Wissing (FDP/Renew) warned against “CO2 tourism”, as EU rules for renewable fuels could lead to liquified CO2 from Europe being shipped to other parts of the world to produce e-fuels for the EU market.

Outgoing EU parliament transport chair Karima Delli talks trains, planes and automobiles

Set to bid farewell to the European Parliament after three successive terms, French Green MEP and chair of the Transport Committee Karima Delli told Euractiv that the biggest achievement of her time there is bringing transport high on the agenda.

Electrification: Europe’s forgotten industry decarbonisation option

After having spent years on hydrogen, policymakers should now focus on the direct electrification that could deliver 90% of process heat by 2035, argues a new study by think-tank Agora Industry.

  • The green movement in the Baltic States: Between hope and reality – By Nathan Canas
  • Energy and environment files on the campaign trail – By Donagh Cagney, Jonathan Packroff and Paul Messad
  • Christophe Grudler – the European Parliament’s nuclear man – By Paul Messad

PARIS. French players see EV battery recycling opportunities but face regulatory hurdles. As electric vehicle continue their rollout, Euractiv spoke with several French industry players looking at battery recycling to capture and re-use critical raw materials. Read more.

Greece speeds up its move away from coal. By May 2024, coal-generated power production in Greece had reached an all-time low, while renewable energies accounted for more than 50% of the country’s electricity production.

Greece’s state-owned Public Power Corporation (PPC) recently announced that it would cease coal-fired activities by 2026, accelerating the exit from this polluting energy source by two years, compared to the initial draft National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP).

“The cost efficiency of renewables is crushing the prospects of coal in a country as rich as Greece in wind and solar resources,” said Beyond Fossil Fuels campaigner Alexandru Mustață.

Greece aims to integrate 96.7% renewables into its electricity system by 2035.

[Nathan Canas]

  • MEPs need green hydrogen on their radar from day one – By Aoife O’Leary
  • Preventing Ukraine from falling into darkness – By Georg Zachmann

  • 13-15 JUNE G7 summit, Borgo Egnazia, Apulia, Italy
  • 17 JUNE. Environment Council (Luxembourg) and Informal meeting of EU leaders
  • 27-28 JUNE. European Council
  • 14 OCTOBER. Environment Council
  • 17-18 OCTOBER. European Council
  • 16 DECEMBER. Energy Council
  • 17 DECEMBER. Environment Council
  • 19-20 DECEMBER. European Council

[Edited by Donagh Cagney/Zoran Radosavljevic]

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The green movement in the Baltic States: Between hope and reality

The green movement in the Baltic States: Between hope and reality

Polls predict that the Green/EFA group will post a fourfold increase in the number of European Parliament seats for the Baltic States after this weekend’s elections. Euractiv spoke with local experts, who cautioned that this increase does not constitute a real ‘green wave’ in the region.

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