As EU climate legislation is set to go to a vote this week, the industry has been stepping up its lobbying efforts. Some MEPs have referred to the recent lobbying campaign as a “tsunami.” Several proposals to cut emissions more quickly this decade are expected to be confirmed by the European Parliament. These will form the basis for negotiations with the EU’s member states on the final laws. These include an upgrade of the EU’s carbon market and an effective ban on the sale of new combustion engine cars in the bloc from 2035.
In an effort to keep up with foreign competition, industry is trying to make its voice heard. In the Czech Republic, for instance, the automotive industry is responsible for eight percent of GDP. The Czech Republic’s industry is a significant employer, providing a good job for millions of citizens. The industry is also lobbying against a carbon price that may prevent some industries from using coal or oil in their production.
European airlines have also been stepping up their lobbying ahead of the climate vote. Several influential MEPs have arranged dinners with aviation industry lobbyists to discuss their plans for a five-year plan to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. However, other EU airlines are also lobbying against the climate legislation. Airlines such as Lufthansa, Air France and Iberia have also lobbied to weaken the EU climate law. Dardenne says industry should back the expansion of the EU ETS while removing wasteful subsidies.
In addition to these pressures, the European Union has also approved new green legislation. The EU has also approved natural gas power plants, although there is a condition that they replace a coal project. The goal of a net-zero emissions target by 2050 has a small margin for error. But a few EU nations have lobbied to suspend the ETS, and a few countries like Poland have argued for a suspension of the ETS altogether.
Meanwhile, in the US, the auto industry has also been ramping up their lobbying efforts. Since the COP21 climate talks in Paris, more than half of the 100 global industrial companies have become active in campaigning. Meanwhile, ExxonMobil and Shell have spent $27 million lobbying in the US to prevent climate legislation. While the American Petroleum Institute spent over $7 million to lobby on behalf of the industry, France has been the most pro-climate company. This is despite the fact that the European cement industry has crippled the original EU ETS ambition. However, it has booked billions of Euros in pure profits.
The EU’s ambitious action plan calls for the production of one-fifth of the world’s rare earth magnets by 2030. Such materials are essential for wind turbines and electric vehicles. With the right financing, industry can move ahead with the technical innovations needed for a sustainable future. But the problem is the EU bureaucracy. It is much easier to raise money in the US, and the EU is not a perfect place to do so.