Portugal wins gold in the 2018 European Fossil Fuel Subsidies Awards, the second edition of a unique contest organised by Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe. The winners are governments who waste taxpayers’ money on supporting dirty energy. Poland comes second and Spain third.
A Europe-wide digital campaign in March triggered people across Europe to vote for the three worst fossil fuel subsidies out of eight nominees in total.
The aim of the awards, organised by CAN Europe, is to expose the well-hidden ways in which European governments are using taxpayers' money to support fossil fuels at the cost of the climate, the environment and people’s health, and increase the pressure to rapidly phase out fossil fuel subsidies.
Portugal cruised to gold for handing out a license to national gas and oil companies for drilling in the deep sea in the Southern province of Alentejo, a protected biodiversity area and a tourism hotspot.
Poland ranked second for its persistent financial support to obsolete coal-power plants, including through the recently introduced “capacity market”, a subsidy aimed at keeping coal power plants online.
Spain took third place on the podium for subsidising coal in the sunkissed Balearic islands, blocking the development of electricity generation from solar energy.
Last but not least, the European Union (EU) itself was awarded a special prize by CAN Europe for its support to gas infrastructure. In 2014-2016, the EU provided an average of €4bn spending on fossil fuels, most of which went to gas projects such as the Trans-Adriatic and Trans-Anatolian pipelines (TAP and TANAP).
Wendel Trio, director of CAN Europe, said: “Two years on from adopting the Paris Agreement, it is unacceptable to be pouring billions of public money into fossil fuels. It causes damage to people’s health, the climate, and makes no sense economically. The awards send a clear signal to European governments: now is the time to phase out fossil fuel subsidies. The freed resources will be useful to enhance a clean and fair energy transition in Europe.”
“The EU also needs to demonstrate through the negotiations on the EU budget that there is no place for fossil fuels in EU funds. Instead, public finance should deliver higher climate ambition.”
Nicolas Derobert, CAN Europe Communications Coordinator, firstname.lastname@example.org, +32 483 62 18 88
Note to editors:
Visit the awards website to access background information for each fossil fuel subsidy.
Quotes from NGOs who nominated the winners:
Francisco Ferreira, director of Zero in Portugal:
“It is unacceptable that the Portuguese government favours access to oil drilling companies in the coast, while the country has a leading role on pledging for ambitious climate action and is planning to become carbon neutral by 2050.”
Anna Ogniewska, climate and energy campaigner at Greenpeace Poland:
“It’s yet another time Poland's persistent subsidizing of coal by the consecutive governments has not gone unnoticed and earned for us a dubious distinction. Giving away billions of euros to the coal plants through the capacity market in Poland will not solve the problems of the Polish energy sector, but in fact it will exacerbate them. All eyes are now on the EU Market Design reform that is the last chance to put the brakes on this extremely detrimental coal subsidy.”
Margalida Ramis, director of GOB Mallorca in Spain:
“For us in Mallorca, the results of this vote reflect how much our island needs a radical shift in the way energy is generated. We don’t want a polluting coal fired power station nor do we want to suffer the negative consequences on our health and environment that it inflicts. Spanish society as a whole, as well as our regional institutions, are calling for change. The energy ministry must take note and stop subsidising coal immediately.”
Massimiliano Patierno, environmental engineer at IIDMA in Spain:
"This award is a wake-up call to the Spanish Government to stop blocking the clean energy transition. Climate change is a serious problem that affects us all; it is mandatory to urgently set solutions."
Quotes from NGOs who nominated the EU special prize:
Frida Kieninger, campaign officer at Food and Water Europe:
“Via the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF), the European Commission still funds unwanted, unneeded and costly infrastructure carrying dangerous fossil gas. Over €1.3 billion of CEF money has been awarded to pipelines, compressor stations, LNG import terminals and gas storage projects since 2014. With the discussions for the next long term EU budget starting next month the EU has to show clearly that not one cent of European taxpayer’s money will be wasted on gas in the future. Doing so is the only way of honouring the Paris Agreement and committing to contributing its fair share to contain climate change.”
Katie Hodgetts, from UK Youth Climate Coalition (UKYCC):
"The European Investment Bank is investing in more than just the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline: they are investing in catastrophic climate change, in stranded assets and in creating a future that is filled with greater strife and inequality. On behalf of young people of the United Kingdom, we renounce our future being jeopardized by big money and business as usual. The Trans-Adriatic Pipeline will traverse both Europe, and meaningful democracy, and it is therefore about time that the youth voice is carried a little further."
Xavier Sol, Director at Counter Balance:
"While publicly acting as a climate champion, the European Investment Bank sneakily fuels carbon emissions by financing huge gas pipelines like TAP and TANAP that will lock us into a disastrous fossil future for decades, as this prize perfectly denounces. But the opportunity to change the course of events is just around the corner: this year the bank will have the chance to give a new direction to its Energy Policy and set for a complete phase out of fossil fuels loans from its portfolio. This is the only viable option, if the bank is to act responsibly on climate and align with the EU's commitment to the Paris Agreement."
Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe is Europe's largest coalition working on climate and energy issues. With over 140 member organisations in more than 30 European countries - representing over 44 million citizens - CAN Europe works to prevent dangerous climate change and promote sustainable climate and energy policy in Europe.