ECA claims EU climate spending could be overstated

3 Jul 20

The EU risks overstating its climate spending without a reliable tracking method, the EU’s fiscal watchdog has warned.

In the 2014-2020 budget period, the European Commission made a commitment to spend at least 20% of the EU budget on climate action – a target now raised to 25% for the upcoming 2021-27 period.

But a new report from the European Court of Auditors found flaws in the Commission’s methodology for tracking climate-related spending, with negative impacts of expenditure leading to increases in emissions not being accounted for.

Moreover, the ECA said, the Commission overestimated the extent to which EU spending, particularly relating to some common agricultural policy schemes, could contribute to tackling climate change at all.

“We all want a genuinely greener EU budget, said Joëlle Elvinger, the ECA member responsible for the review.

“Progress has been made, but the risk of overestimating EU climate action remains.”

She said looking ahead to the next period with its more ambitious target of 25%, “we need reliable reporting on climate-related spending”.

A Commission spokesperson said the methodology it uses to measure progress towards its target “is clear and well-established”, and that it follows the OECD-developed ‘Rio marker’, but added that “of course, the Commission is always striving to do better”.

“In the next long-term budget, we have introduced a series of improvements to make sure our programmes better contribute towards the climate objective,” she said.

These include ‘climate-proofing’ major investments to ensure they are not counter-productive on emissions, creating an exclusion list for EU funds so their support does not go to fossil fuels, and further embedding climate change into various EU-wide strategies.

“We have also committed that the climate objective will apply to the funds under Next Generation EU, the temporary recovery instrument to help Europe emerge stronger from the crisis, which will need to contribute to the objectives of green and digital recovery,” the spokeswoman added.

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