EU spending on local weather motion ‘overstated’ by €72 billion, auditors say –

Spending on local weather motion within the EU’s 2014-2020 funds was “not as excessive as reported” in official paperwork, the European Court docket of Auditors (ECA) mentioned in a report printed on Monday (30 Could).

The courtroom mentioned the European Union had missed its goal of spending at the least 20% of its funds on local weather motion by round seven share factors.

The European Fee, which manages and implements the EU funds, beforehand reported that €216 billion was spent on local weather motion in the course of the 2014-2020 budgetary interval.

In actuality, related local weather spending was extra prone to be round 13% of the EU funds – or €144 billion – slightly than the reported 20%, ECA discovered.

“Not all of the reported climate-related spending underneath the EU funds was truly related to local weather motion,” mentioned Joëlle Elvinger, the ECA member who led the audit.

Present reporting is finished “earlier than the expenditures are literally spent”, which means figures are “inflated by unused or non-disbursed funds,” Elvinger informed journalists at a press briefing as we speak.

Furthermore, “the methodology for monitoring local weather spending considers solely the potential constructive influence on local weather and doesn’t observe potential destructive impacts of measures that serve different EU aims,” she added.

Citing natural farming for example, Elvinger mentioned the Fee’s figures ignore potential drawbacks corresponding to declining agricultural productiveness and rising grain imports from international locations with much less stringent environmental guidelines.

Agriculture the primary wrongdoer

It’s in farming coverage that local weather spending is overstated essentially the most – by nearly €60 billion, in accordance with ECA. Equally, the local weather contribution of spending in areas like rail transport, electrical energy, and biomass tends to be overstated as properly, the auditors mentioned.

In its report, ECA made a number of suggestions to raised hyperlink the EU’s expenditure to its local weather and power aims. Amongst these is a suggestion that the Fee justifies the local weather relevance of funding underneath the Frequent Agricultural Coverage (CAP), which represents round 40% of all EU spending.

“The Fee ought to report on the contribution made by local weather spending to EU local weather and power aims. It ought to focus particularly on tips on how to measure the influence of the funds on mitigating local weather change,” the report mentioned.

Worryingly, points are prone to stay within the present budgetary interval, which runs from 2021 till 2027, ECA mentioned.

Within the present funds, the European Union has dedicated to spend at the least 30% on local weather motion, a goal which rises to 37% in relation to the EU’s €800 billion restoration fund from the COVID-19 disaster, adopted in 2020.

However the auditors expressed “issues concerning the reliability” of local weather reporting underneath the present interval, saying “many of the points recognized for 2014-2020 nonetheless stay”.

These issues are even prone to worsen due to the “unclear hyperlinks between funds and local weather goal” underneath the EU’s coronavirus restoration fund, which introduces the precept of “do no important hurt” whereby spending shouldn’t threaten any of the EU’s environmental or local weather aims.

Below the brand new €800 billion fund, the Fee will calculate contributions to local weather spending upfront, based mostly on the estimated prices specified by nationwide spending plans. However checking compliance might be difficult, ECA warned, saying there’s a important “danger of misstating local weather spending” in relation to budgeted quantities.

“We recognized potential points corresponding to the danger of misstating local weather spending” in circumstances the place the distinction between the quantities dedicated and really spent are important, Elvinger mentioned.

One other danger is that the milestones and targets that set off funds underneath the fund will not be clearly linked to local weather aims, Elvinger added. “This raises the query of the reliability of future local weather reporting, which may be topic to future audits,” she warned.

The European Fee didn’t reply to EURACTIV’s request for remark, saying it can make a press release as soon as the ECA report is formally printed.

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[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]

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