NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


July 30, 2010

Spain, Germany, France, Italy and the Czech Republic have all announced low-carbon energy subsidy cuts, and there are fears that the United Kingdom, making budget cuts across the board as it desperately seeks to reduce a deficit of over £160 billion (about US$209 billion), will be tempted to go even further, says the New York Times. 

The United Kingdom's independent Committee on Climate Change called earlier this week for the government to safeguard the £550 million (about $719 million) a year it spends supporting clean energy, which it said was a paltry amount that needed, if anything, to be increased when economic circumstances allow.  Yet cuts have already been announced, says the Times:  

  • The European Union is committed to getting 20 percent of its final energy consumption from renewables like wind, wave, tidal and solar by 2020, and cutting carbon emissions by 20 percent by the same deadline -- targets that many businesses and certain governments find daunting.
  • The task is made no easier by prospects, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), that economic growth in Europe will remain weak for several years with low spending power, worsening welfare and rising unemployment. 

Earlier this month, the climate, energy and environment ministers of France, the United Kingdom and Germany called on the 27-nation European Union to move unilaterally to 30 percent emission reductions.   But environmental campaigners still fear that the cuts, and the potential signal that they give, could be the start of far harsher measures to come -- especially if European economies only manage to dawdle out of recession. 

Source:  Jeremy Lovell, "Europe slashes low-carbon energy subsidies as budgets shrink," New York Times, July 29, 2010. 

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