EU Commissioner: Europe opposes US climate initiatives with its own ‘green deal’

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The European Union responded on Tuesday to US moves to boost its energy transition with its own plans to make life easier for green business, saying it would launch state aid and sovereign wealth funds to keep companies from ‘ move to the United States.

European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen told the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos that the moves would be part of the EU’s Green Deal business plan to make Europe a hub for clean and new technology. customize

“The aim is to focus investment on strategic projects across the entire supply chain. We will especially look at how we can make approval simpler and faster for new technical production sites,” she said in a speech at the meeting.

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“To keep European business attractive, it is necessary to be competitive with the offers and incentives currently available outside the EU,” said von der Leyen.

Earlier, International Energy Agency (IEA) executive director Fatih Birol told the WEF panel that energy security is now the main driver of climate investment.

Birol said the US Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), signed by President Joe Biden last year, would drive investment in cleaner energy and represent the most important climate deal from the famous 2015 Paris Agreement.

This idea was raised by Larry Fink, the chief executive of the world’s largest asset manager BlackRock, who told an event on the sidelines of the WEF meeting that the US government will move to move faster in the world’s largest economy. -funding the world, through the IRA was a “game changer”.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen (left) announced that Europe intended to compete with America's climate policy while speaking at the Davos conference on Tuesday.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen (left) announced that Europe intended to compete with America’s climate policy while speaking at the Davos conference on Tuesday.
(REUTERS/Ard Wiegmann)

‘Money, money, money’

The US climate ambassador, John Kerry, told a special panel on financing the transition to a low carbon economy that the only way to avoid the catastrophic damage caused by climate change is for governments and companies to spend a lot of money.

“How do we get there? The lesson I’ve learned over the last few years is … money, money, money, money, money, money, money,” Kerry said of what was needed for the world to meet any opportunity. the 2015 Paris Agreement goal of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.

While European countries have welcomed the new commitment to energy transition by the Biden administration, some fear it could put their companies at a disadvantage.

“I understand the importance of the Act from the US point of view but on the other hand I should also think about European interests,” said Jozef Sikela, the Czech minister of industry and trade, on the same WEF panel as Birol.

Europe’s energy crisis, caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year, has been felt across the 27-member EU, with gas prices nearly 90% higher last year than in a year before.

Sikela said European households and businesses were paying the biggest bill for the global energy crisis, while the new US legislation would drive away investors and lead governments to “dangerous” competition on subsidies.

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‘Targeted Support’

Von der Leyen later told reporters that the proposed fund – an idea she first floated in September that still does not have the support of all EU governments, particularly the Germany – both grants and loans.

She said that as the EU prepares to establish this fund – aimed at making domestic businesses more competitive, especially against US and Asian businesses – a bridging solution for green business financing would also provide -into loans and grants.

“We need a very clear message and signal now to the cleantech industry that Europe is their home and their future and it’s worth investing here,” she told reporters in Davos.

“As this will take some time, we will look at a bridging solution to provide quick and targeted support where it is most needed,” she said, without giving details, adding that the Commission reducing the needs of the green industry.

Vicki Hollub, chief executive of US oil producer Occidental Petroleum Corp, earlier called the US legislation one of the most transformative bills ever signed.

But she rallied European governments to tax fossil fuel companies that were also developing renewable energy.

“With all due respect to Europe, I hate to say it but I have to say, putting a profit tax on the oil companies that are doing their best to grow wind and solar in Europe was not the best move quick, in my opinion,” said Hollub.

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Subsidies are very important for the development of new technologies, she told the WEF panel with Birol and Sikela.

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