Greenpeace exposes the dirty face of Europe's energy subsidies

Feature story - July 29, 2004
BANGALORE, India — Despite innumerable statements about the dangers of climate change and the need for more renewable energy from a host of European institutions, blank cheques are still being written to underpin the industries at the heart of climate change, the production of nuclear waste and the threat of nuclear proliferation. Greenpeace believes that until these subsidies are stopped, renewables will not be able to meet their full potential as a solution to climate change and the risks posed by the nuclear industry.

save our climate

The report " The EUTs Energy Support Programmes: Promoting Sustainability or Pollution? by energy expert Antony Froggatt [1] " shows that:

* over the last 30 years, around ¬60 billion has been spent on research and development of nuclear technologies " far more than for any other energy source. In the last EU research Framework Programme, nuclear technologies were awarded more than 1.2 billion, while renewables received only ¬390 million;

* the nuclear industry has also benefited from Loans granted under the Euratom Treaty, totalling ¬3.2 billion since 1977. The Euratom Treaty may permit billions of euros worth of state aid to help pay for the costs of dealing with nuclear waste;

* the European Commission sanctioned more than ¬60 billion in state aid for the coal sector in Member States between 1994 and 2003, despite the threat of climate change;

* the European Investment Bank loaned around ¬18 billion for energy projects between 1990 and 2003. Of this, non-hydro renewable projects received funding worth only 323 million

* energy infrastructure projects " which tend to favour large-scale, fossil fuel or nuclear generation " have received billions through structural funds and grants.

Renewable energy sources and energy efficiency have the potential to make deep cuts in carbon dioxide emissions to prevent dangerous climate change, as well as to end the nuclear age.

Some energy sources like wind energy are already mature and fully competitive with coal or nuclear plants. A recent Greenpeace report demonstrated that offshore wind alone could provide one third of Europe's electricity by 2020 [2]. Greenpeace is calling on EU Governments to endorse the ParliamentTs call and push for an EU renewable energy target at the upcoming Bonn Renewables Conference of a minimum contribution to energy generation of 20% by 2020 [3].

"This report exposes the hypocrisy at the heart of European energy policy," said Jan Vande Putte of Greenpeace.Europe's leaders are paying lip service to the need to encourage renewables generation to address the threat of climate change, but when it comes to putting their hands in their pockets the money has already been spent on dirty energy subsidies.

[2] seawind report link

[3] the Renewables 2004 conference will be held on 1-4 June. For more information, see