Updated: EU commits 20% of budget to green policies

20th November 2013

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The European Union will spend at least one-fifth of its €960 billion budget to 2020 on tackling climate change and encouraging low-carbon growth

The European parliament has approved the EU budget for 2014–2020, committing the bloc to spending at least €180 billion on policies aimed at lowering environmental impacts and assisting the transition to a low-carbon economy.

EU commissioner for climate action, Connie Hedegaard, hailed the decision as a major step forward in efforts by the EU to tackle climate change.

“Today is an incredibly important day for Europe and for the fight against climate change,” she said. “At least 20% of the entire EU budget for 2014-2020 will be climate-related spending.

“Rather than being parked in a corner of the EU budget, climate action will now be integrated into all the main spending areas. I believe the EU is the first region in the world to mainstream climate action into its whole budget.”

Under the newly-approved budget, which is separate from EU members states’ individual financial commitments, climate-related spending will increase significantly in policy areas relating to economic development, agriculture, research, and innovation and infrastructure, as well as existing environment and climate change programmes.

The European Commission has confirmed that because low-carbon energy, food security and climate resilience are becoming a higher priority climate-related spending within its development policies will “strongly increase”. The commission already estimates that it will be spending €1.7 billion on such development programmes in the next two years.

At least 30% of funds under the EU’s common agricultural policy to 2020 will be used for climate-related projects. Meanwhile, €22 billion of total spending on the bloc’s innovation programme, Horizon 2020, will be dedicated to developing “energy, climate and clean technologies”.

Funds have also been earmarked from the EU’s regional cohesion policy programme to improve member states’ energy efficiency, and €28 billion will be spent on improving the bloc’s transport and energy infrastructure.

The approved budget has also confirmed that funding for the EU’s LIFE programme, which is dedicated specifically to environmental issues and climate change, will rise to more than €3 billion, with €760 million allocated to climate action projects.

European authorities have also formally approved the 7th EU Environment Action Programme (EAP) and written it into law. The new plan, which comes into immediate effect, will run for seven years and focuses on nine priority objectives. These include: protecting nature and strengthening ecological resilience; boosting resource-efficient low-carbon growth; and promoting the better implementation of EU environmental legislation.

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