The astronomical costs of Net Zero policies are beginning to cause public anger and political upheaval. Now the EU is rocked by a massive revolt over its Green Deal plans. It is becoming evident by the day that the cost and pain of Net Zero’s utopian plans won’t survive contact with the public.
Brussels’ historic attempt to tackle climate change faces a wall of opposition from governments in the bloc on the ground that its plans would hit their households with higher energy costs.
EU legislators told the Financial Times that the European Commission’s attempts to expand carbon pricing to the biggest polluting sectors of the economy such as cars and buildings are at risk, as member states object that it will force its poorest to pay.
Frans Timmermans, the commission’s executive vice-president in charge of the Green Deal, has said the measures were needed to “put a price on carbon, and a premium on decarbonisation”.
“Our current tools do not do enough. If we don’t fight the climate crisis, we will be fighting wars over water and food,” he said.
Brussels on Wednesday presented 13 legislative measures designed to help cut average greenhouse gas emissions by 55 per cent by 2030 and to reach net zero emissions by 2050, when compared with 1990 levels.
At the heart of the strategy is a bid to expand the EU’s carbon pricing mechanism, known as the Emissions Trading System, where companies have to pay for the cost of polluting.
Governments of some of the largest states lined up to question the merits of the expansion of the system to cover emissions from road transport and the heating of buildings, arguing it will have a “regressive” effect on those residents who cannot readily afford greener alternatives.
Since its creation in 2005, the system of allowances has been limited to the big power generators and polluting industries that buy the credits to cover the cost of their emissions.
The EU carbon price has hovered for the past month around €55 a tonne, or more than double its pre-pandemic level, as traders bet that the availability of carbon allowances will need to tighten if the EU is to meet its emission targets.
But France, Spain, Italy, Hungary, Latvia, Ireland and Bulgaria all raised concerns about the impact on citizens at a meeting of EU ambassadors on Wednesday when they were briefed following the release of the plans, diplomats told the FT.
Commission president Ursula von der Leyen also faced down a revolt among at least seven of her 26 commissioners before presenting the plans. The reforms will need the support of a qualified majority of EU governments and the European parliament to come into force.