The report “Climate and energy transition: the untapped potential of EU funds” indicates that the countries of the European Union (EU) make little use of regional development funds to accelerate the transition to carbon neutrality.
The Life Unify project is intended to monitor the implementation of the national energy and climate plans of 10 EU countries, one of them Portugal, and runs until August 2022.
It aims to show the potential and increase the countries’ climate ambitions, being financed by the EU programme Life and coordinated by the European Climate Action Network.
In the document, quoted in a statement by the environmental organisation Zero, one of the organisations of the Life Unify project (which is expected to be applied in all member states in the future), it is said that countries must “make climate action a priority” in order to recover environmentally and economically.
It says that states “have been slow” to “support their climate commitments with European funds” and that they have only mobilised 9.7 percent of the EU’s Cohesion and Regional Development Funds for the 2014-2020 period to finance the infrastructure of clean energy.
“It is therefore necessary for countries to urgently review the way they spend the future EU budget for 2021-2017”, stresses the statement.
The report also shows that Portugal was the user of the cohesion policy funds with the highest percentage for investments in public infrastructure (about 85 percent of the funds). But it only used 7.7 percent of the funds for investment in renewable energy, energy efficiency and research and innovation.
It is necessary that Portugal, they warn, continues to invest in renewable energies, electric mobility, adaptation to climate change and the circular economy.
A correct application of the funds, even taking into account the economic crisis caused by the new coronavirus, which causes the Covid-19 disease, can generate more distributed work, and for more economic agents says the organisation.
Francisco Ferreira, president of Zero, says, quoted in the statement, that if Portugal directs more EU funds towards climate action “it is the best way to boost the recovery of the economy”.
In the same vein, Marcus Trilling, coordinator of policies and subsidies for the European Climate Action Network, says, quoted in the document: “Investments aimed at combating climate change would contribute to European recovery”.
The report’s authors say the EU budget for 2021-27 should increase the focus on climate action far more than today, with 40 percent devoted to action in this area.