by Jenay Randall
Today’s summary follows on from Part 1 of this current affairs series, which is accessible here.
On the 14th and 16th of March various important meetings took place for tackling key topics such as the Alternative Fuels Infrastructure Regulation, the Social Climate Fund and the Renewable Energy Directive (RED II).
3. Social Climate Fund (SCF)
Highlights from the Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI)
Rapporteur: David Casa (PPE)
According to David Casa the Social Climate Fund was set up to cushion the impacts of the extended ETS (ETS II) and direct investment into energy.
The chief concerns on the agenda are:
- There is a lack of consensus on where to target investments. Ultimately, Member States should have some flexibility depending on their national contexts.
- There is debate on which sectors need the most support.
- Lastly, there is debate on when to distribute the funds.
Rapporteur: Esther de Lange (PPE)
The need for a Social Climate Fund is even more important now that energy prices have increased.
There is consensus that it is important that the funds actually reach the people who need it most. However, there needs to be more oversight on Member States to verify how they are distributing the fund.
There is increasing consensus on whether to use investment or direct income support. The general thought is that direct income support should be a temporary measure.
Lastly, It is important to define where the revenue for the funds will originate.
Shadow rapporteur Klara Dobrev (S&D)
Ms. Dobrev highlighted that those with higher incomes are using electric vehicles and efficiently insulated homes because they can afford it, while lower income homes cannot.
She points out that with the green transition, those with lower incomes are going to receive more of a tax burden. The SCF was established as a solution to this discrepancy.
Ms. Dobrev agrees with the need for direct income support for a five year period directed at individuals, not businesses.
Shadow rapporteur Ondrej Knotek (Renew Europe)
Renew Europe does not agree with the extension of the ETS to cover the building sector and road transport, however, with the SCF, negative impacts can be compensated for.
Mr. Knotek proposes that the Commission needs to establish a climate fund template that all Member States can use as a blueprint.
With regards to budget, Renew Europe does not necessarily think that ETS II revenue should be allocated to the SCF. He disagrees with the extension of SCF to Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
Lastly, he agrees with the need for direct income support, with gradual annual decreases until 2030.
Shadow rapporteur Katrin Langensiepen (Greens)
The Greens do not agree with the extension of the ETS.
In agreement with shadow rapporteur Ms. Dobrev (S&D), Ms. Langensiepen points out that single mothers are some of the most vulnerable in society and should be one of the main target groups. SMEs should not be included.
Ms. Langensiepen notes that switching to electric cars is not enough for a mobility transition. It is more important to offer direct income support.
Shadow rapporteur Dominique Bilde (ID)
According to Ms. Bilde, we should be concerned about foreign electric vehicles (Europe has already imported 51, 000 vehicles of Chinese origin) invading European markets therefore there should be fiscal incentives that benefit local manufacturers.
She cautions against energy dependence and stresses the importance of a nuclear patent to generate more energy.
Ms. Bilde believes that the Social Climate Fund does not respond quickly enough to current energy needs and that targeted national aid would be more responsive.
Shadow rapporteur Petros Kokkalis (The European Left)
The Left is against the extension of the ETS II because it does not resolve the lack of progress in emissions reduction in the transport sector and may damage social cohesion and democratic agility.
Mr. Kokkalis is of the opinion that direct income support is important to eradicate poverty.
The Left is also in favor of strengthening climate plans that can be used as tools of public engagement, provide technical capacity to communities and cultivate energy democracy.
References: All EP meetings can be watched at: https://www.europarl.europa.eu/committees/en/meetings/webstreaming