FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 25, 2021
EU foreign ministers commit to push for end to fossil fuel subsidies and finance; pressure builds on United States to follow suit
BRUSSELS — In a move to put climate change at the center of its foreign policy, today European Union ministers adopted new priorities on climate and energy diplomacy.
Specifically, the EU committed to: “[D]iscourage all further investments into fossil fuel based energy infrastructure projects in third countries, unless they are fully consistent with an ambitious, clearly defined pathway towards climate neutrality in line with the long-term objectives of the Paris Agreement and best available science.”
In addition, the EU called for a phase-out of environmentally harmful fossil fuel subsidies on a clear timeline, committed to scale up the mobilization of international climate finance, and committed to develop and support a just transition away from unabated coal towards climate neutrality. In response to this news, Oil Change International representatives released the following statements.
Laurie van der Burg, Brussels-based Senior Campaigner at Oil Change International:
“Ending government support for fossil fuels is a no-brainer. Globally, governments are still propping up fossil fuels with huge sums of public money, behaviour that is incompatible with keeping global warming below 1.5ºC. President Biden has committed to end fossil fuel subsidies and dirty energy finance, and in December, the UK announced an end to their overseas public finance for fossil fuel. This creates a powerful opportunity for the EU, UK, and US to collaborate to finally end government-backed finance for oil, gas, and coal ahead of the UK-hosted UN climate summit in November.
“For effective diplomacy on this issue, the EU must take action at home, and close loopholes for continued EU support for fossil fuels, including for gas. The phase-out of the European Investment Bank’s support to oil and gas was an important breakthrough, but EU fossil fuel subsidies continue to run into the hundreds of billions per year. Member States are still pushing for fossil gas to be labelled as a ‘transition fuel’ in the EU green list for sustainable investments. For the EU to lead this agenda at the international level, it must set the right example and phase out all government support for fossil fuels.”
Collin Rees, Washington, DC-based Senior Campaigner at Oil Change International:
“Today’s commitment by the European Union to end overseas investment in oil, gas, and coal projects is yet another indication that the fossil fuel era is over. As a new administration takes power in Washington, this is a powerful signal that clean energy is ascendant and that the EU stands willing to work with President Biden and others to end all finance for dirty energy.
“Biden should act boldly on his campaign commitments to end finance for dirty energy projects. By building on past commitments to end coal finance and extending this to oil and gas, Biden can join the EU and UK in transforming international finance to address the challenges of the next century, not prop up the remnants of the last century’s infrastructure.”
Notes to Editors
- Council conclusions on climate and energy diplomacy adopted today.
- Overseas Development Institute and Climate Action Network Europe research mapping EU fossil fuel support.
- Oil Change International and Friends of the Earth US research mapping G20 public finance for energy, showing G20 governments public finance averaging $77 billion per year (three times the support provided for clean energy).
- The Energy Policy Tracker, a think tank- and NGO-led initiative tracking public money for various types of energy in COVID-19 recovery packages around the world.