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EU climate chief: rising energy prices should boost transition

The European Union’s climate czar said the bloc of 27 countries should ensure that the most vulnerable do not pay the heaviest price for the green transition, amid rising fuel prices. energy

BRUSSELS – The European Union’s climate czar said on Tuesday that the bloc of 27 nations should ensure that the most vulnerable do not pay the heaviest price for the green transition, and pledged measures to ensure equal burden sharing in society, in the midst of a global wave of energy prices.

“The only thing we cannot afford is for the social side to oppose the climate side. I see this threat very clearly now that we are discussing rising prices in the energy sector, “said Frans Timmermans, Vice-President of the European Commission in charge of climate issues.

As global demand for gas has skyrocketed, energy prices have risen across Europe as the EU is pushing for a rapid phase-out of coal and the development of sustainable energy sources. Carbon prices have skyrocketed in recent months, impacting electricity bills.

“Only about a fifth of the price increase can be attributed to the increase in Co2 prices. The other is simply a consequence of the scarcity in the market, ”said Timmermans, noting that renewable energy prices have remained low and stable.

Timmermans said price hikes in the energy sector should lead the bloc to accelerate the transition to renewables. He stressed that if the transition had started earlier, the current situation would not have happened as countries would be less dependent on fossil fuels and natural gas.

The commission’s proposals included in the “Fit for 55 package” presented this summer encompass a dozen major proposals, ranging from the de facto abolition of gasoline and diesel cars by 2035 to new taxes on gasoline heating. buildings.

Timmermans said the EU executive’s proposals, which are expected to be endorsed by EU countries and approved by parliament, would give the 27 members the opportunity to introduce measures to protect their citizens, including by reducing taxes on VAT, energy taxes or providing direct support to households. .

While some lawmakers have expressed concerns about the plan’s impact on energy prices, green lawmaker Ska Keller has said public subsidies for fossil fuels should be immediately removed as part of a fast-track move. renewable energies.

“Because we believe that the political cost is extremely high and the climate impact is very low,” he said.

Putting a price on emissions from buildings and transport has raised fears that this measure will trigger social protests across Europe, similar to the movement of “yellow vests” which began in France in 2018 after an increase in taxes on vehicles. fuels.

World leaders agreed six years ago in Paris to work to prevent global temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), and ideally no more than 1.5 degrees C (2.7 F) by the end of the century. Scientists say both targets will be largely missed unless drastic measures are taken to reduce emissions.

“I think we can always fix it,” said Timmermans. “I think we can prevent the climate crisis from getting out of hand and out of control.”


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