Green stimulus measures needed to exit crisis, warn leading environmental groups

Press release - June 27, 2012
Brussels - Ahead of this week’s EU Summit, the Green 10 network of leading environmental organizations encourages EU heads of government to break the link between the banking and the sovereign debt crises. Governments must regain the ability to implement policies that will transform the EU economy to make it more resource efficient and resilient to worsening environmental conditions. The green groups also welcome that the debate is moving beyond austerity and consider that an EU stimulus agenda, if devised correctly, would help solve the interlinked environmental and economic crises.

Measures which the Green 10 proposes for an EU stimulus package include:

  • A green tax shift to address the problem of high unemployment and pollution.
  • Conditionality for any financial support to banks to ensure investment in green sectors of the real economy.
  • Priority support to energy savings and renewable technology, sustainable transport and renewable energy infrastructure for electric vehicles.
  • No public subsidies for fossil fuels and unsustainable activities.
  • Green public procurement as a fundamental principle to boost the economy.
  • A continental tax or levy on financial transactions to provide additional financing for green stimulus measures and to fight climate change.
  • Supporting sustainable activity in rural and maritime regions.

At a time of critical economic challenges, including rising unemployment and dwindling natural resources, the Green 10 considers that Europe needs to transform its economy to become more resilient, to operate more efficiently and within planetary limits. Degradation of nature will cost the EU €1 trillion every year by 2050 [1]. Any EU stimulus plan must halt this destruction of natural wealth and its harmful impacts on human health [2], while creating millions of new jobs in green sectors such as renewable energy and energy savings, nature conservation and restoration, as well as sustainable transport. It should also make the European economy less dependent on energy imports, saving hundreds of billions of euro annually [3].

However, environmental groups warn that EU governments have a poor track record in finding long term solutions that benefit the environment and the economy [4]. Badly devised financial and regulatory support in the energy sector could lead to a technological 'lock-in', keeping the EU saddled with high energy costs for decades, preventing the rapid expansion of renewable technologies and related jobs.

Notes to editors:
[1] Cost of policy inaction (COPI): The case of not meeting the 2010 biodiversity target. L. Braat & P. ten Brink (eds.) (chapter 6, p. 140)
[2] Almost half a million European citizens die every year solely due to air pollution. See European Topic Centre on Air Pollution and Climate Change (2009): (p. 20)
[3] The International Energy Agency estimates oil imports into the EU to cost more than 500 billion dollars in 2012.
[4] For example, the costly car scrappage schemes introduced in 2008/9 were environmentally and economically ineffective. See OECD Interim Report of the Green Growth Strategy, p.30.

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The Green 10 is an alliance of ten of the largest European environmental organisations and networks, with a membershipof over 20 million people.

Green 10 members organisations include:
BirdLife International, Climate Action Network Europe, CEE Bankwatch Network, European Environmental Bureau, Friends of the Earth Europe, Greenpeace, Health and Environment Alliance, Naturefriends International, Transport and Environment, and WWF.