Eight EU countries call for 25% of budget go towards fighting climate change

Samuel Osborne

Eight European countries have proposed a quarter of the European Union‘s budget be spent on tackling climate change.

Belgium, Denmark, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Sweden also said the EU should cut greenhouse gas emissions to a net-zero level “by 2050 at the latest”.

“Climate change is a global challenge with profound implications for the future of humanity and our planet,” the joint statement said.

“Its impacts are already felt all across the EU, with for example the heat waves and scorching fires of last summer.”

“It is crucial to redirect the financial flows, both private and public, towards the climate action,” the paper added.

“The EU budget currently under negotiation will be an important tool in this respect: at least 25 per cent of the spendings should go to projects aimed at fighting against climate change.”

The paper was snubbed by several EU countries, most notably Germany, Italy and Poland, whose economies are among the biggest in the EU.

The EU’s annual budget is set by the multiannual financial framework, which currently allows the EU to spend more than €900bn (£775bn) between 2014 and 2020.

On Thursday, EU leaders will meet in Sibiu in Romania to discuss the future of the union after Brexit and discuss key challenges such as climate change.

It comes amid a backdrop of increased awareness around climate change, bolstered by the Extinction Rebellion protests which brought traffic to a standstill in parts of London last November.

Meanwhile, the United Nations secretary-general has warned the world must drastically change the way it fuels factories, vehicles and homes in order to limit future warming to a level scientists call nearly impossible.

The alternative ”would mean a catastrophic situation for the whole world,” Antonio Guterres told the Associated Press.

He said he is summoning world leaders to the UN in September to tell them “they need to do much more in order for us to be able to reverse the present trends and to defeat the climate change”.

That means, he said, the world has to change, not in small incremental ways but in big “transformative” ways, into a green economy with electric vehicles and “clean cities”.

He said he wanted countries to build no new coal power plants after 2020 and ultimately wants to make sure by 2050 the world is no longer putting more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than nature takes out.