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HomeLatest NewsInflation causes cracks in Europe's climate transition roadmap

Inflation causes cracks in Europe’s climate transition roadmap

Date: September 29, 2023 Time: 05:56:15

The path of decarbonization in Europe has encountered a strong enemy: inflation. Countries like the United Kingdom, a pioneer in implementing a law – without a vote against – to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, are experiencing a division of parliamentary opinion on how to carry out climate transition policies, according to collects Bloomberg.

For his part, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak sees the climate as a profitable political battleground in the race toward an election in which polls indicate he is likely to lose. His government has opposed the expansion of a Labor Party-controlled London low-pollution zone and issued 100 new oil and gas exploration licences, something opposition leader Keir Starmer has said. promised to stop.

Some of Sunak’s Conservative Party members want to go further, walking back the plan to phase out new internal combustion cars by 2030, for example. They argue that cutting emissions is an expense that financially struggling Britons cannot afford: Europe’s highest inflation rate means rising utility bills and food prices leave little room for expensive electric vehicles or replace gas boilers with heat pumps.

“We are governed by consent and the costs of net zero emissions are putting that consent at risk,” defended Jacob Rees-Mogg, a Conservative MP and former Energy Secretary, who is an abandonment of the party’s right. “There was consent when economies were doing well. There is much less consent when economies are suffering from inflation,” he concluded.

The cracks in the climate consensus are not just happening in Britain. Last June, up to 13,000 people gathered in southern Germany to protest against a law banning gas boilers, an issue that has shaken Olaf Scholz’s coalition.

Parts of the EU’s so-called Green Deal face opposition from member states, especially France, which opposed tougher rules on tailpipe emissions, and Germany, which almost halted a ban on combustion engines. Other leaders, such as Belgium’s Prime Minister Alexander De Croo, have cautioned about the impact that rapidly implementing policies to reduce carbon emissions will have on the industry. Dutch politics have been rocked by opposition to airplanes to curb emissions from their farms.

Polls show most European supporters want action on climate change as heatwaves, wildfires and floods make the impact of emissions increasingly evident, but they are reactions to shouldering the cost to switch to less polluting technologies. For governments, this means dealing with achieving long-term green goals without burdening businesses and individuals with upfront costs, as inflation continues to hit people’s pockets.

“The mistake that has been made in several countries is to forget that it is a very big transformation that you have to make, and you can only be successful by doing it in a socially fair way,” said Niklas Höhne, professor of climate policy at the University from Wageningen, Germany, and co-founder of the NewClimate Institute.

In Germany, the Government wants to allocate a fund of 212 billion euros outside the budget to finance the green impulse, but is not willing to implement measures that affect the homes and habits of those recommended. The country is reluctant to reduce its €65 billion in environmentally harmful subsidies, which benefit the country’s car manufacturers, as they include tax rebates for commuting and tax cuts on diesel or fleets . of companies. There is also resistance within the coalition to implement the EU’s stricter energy efficiency rules, which will require many homeowners to invest heavily in renovations.

Germany has weakened its ban on new fossil fuel heating systems, which could have significantly contributed to reducing emissions in the housing sector. The Government also backtracked on its district heating targets after intense pressure from utilities. “We have seen this for years, when an economic crisis hits, climate protection is the first thing that is questioned,” said Susanne Dröge, head of the climate protection and energy department at Germany’s Federal Environment Agency.

In the UK, there are still decisions to be made that will show the level of willingness of politicians to backtrack on climate targets. This week, Sunak weakened a de facto ban on the development of new onshore wind farms, but was criticized by clean energy campaigners for not going far enough as local consent is still required. This week, a UK Government auction for offshore wind farms attracted no bids, casting fresh doubt on the country’s ability to meet its net zero emissions target.

Puck Henry
Puck Henry
Puck Henry is an editor for ePrimefeed covering all types of news.

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