Poorest should get EU climate fund sooner, say lawmakers

Newly elected European Parliament President Roberta Metsola delivers a speech during a plenary session in Strasbourg, France, January 18, 2022. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

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BRUSSELS, Jan 18 (Reuters) – A new fund to support Europe’s poorest households in the transition to green energy is set to start a year earlier than planned, in 2024, according to a first draft position paper from the European Parliament on the proposal.

The European Commission said last year it would launch a “social climate fund” in 2025 to protect vulnerable citizens from higher bills that could arise from a European carbon market for buildings and transport fuels. .

The fund would total 72 billion euros ($81.60 billion) under the Commission’s proposal and aims to overcome resistance from some countries to the new carbon market, which they fear could face a public backlash if it increased energy bills.

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Draft Parliament amendments to the fund proposal, seen by Reuters, would also increase the carbon market revenues that flow into the fund if carbon prices rise – potentially leading to more cash.

“The green transition should be achievable for everyone, not just those who can afford it,” said Esther de Lange, one of the proposal’s two lead lawmakers.

The fund could support electric car subsidies, energy-efficient home renovations and train workers to retrofit, install solar panels on rooftops and install electric vehicle chargers.

Temporary grants could also help citizens pay their bills, but should be limited to a three-year period, lawmakers said.

Other changes proposed by lawmakers would limit funding to the cheapest half of low-emission vehicles on a country’s market each year – which they hope would create a second-hand market for affordable electric cars. .

“The fund shouldn’t be used to buy high-priced Teslas, but rather small and midsize cars for everyday families,” de Lange said.

Once parliament agrees to his amendments, it will have to negotiate the final details of the fund with EU countries – a process that will take months.

Lawmakers also want to create European definitions of energy and transport poverty, covering households that spend a disproportionate share of their disposable income on energy costs or transport.

($1 = 0.8824 euros)

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Reporting by Kate Abnett; edited by Barbara Lewis

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