Greenpeace slams European energy subsidies

Report puts costs of nuclear, fossil fuel subsidies at $15 billion a year

Europe subsidises its fossil fuel and nuclear industries to the tune of $15 billion a year, says a new report from Greenpeace. The environmental pressure group argue that this "substantial subsidy" is fuelling climate change, increasing the risk of nuclear accidents and diverting funds from sustainable energy sources such as renewables.

The report was produced for Greenpeace by the Institute for Environmental Studies of the Vrije Universiteit in Amsterdam. It analyses the direct subsidies - such as direct payments, tax reductions and research funding - to energy production in the EU, Switzerland and Norway.

According to Greenpeace, more than 90% of the direct subsidies from European governments to the energy industry goes to fossil fuels (63%) and nuclear power (28%). Only 9% of direct subsidies - or $1.5 billion a year - is spent on supporting renewable energy sources.

Greenpeace climate campaigner Kirsty Hamilton, said today that direct subsidies were "just the tip of the iceberg" and that below the surface there were "massive indirect subsidies" - such as royalty deals for oil exploration - given to the fossil fuel and nuclear industries.

The money spent subsidising coal, oil, gas and nuclear power reinforces the dominance of the traditional industries, suppresses the rise of renewables and "directly undermines government policies aimed at reducing carbon dioxide emissions", the report claims. Greenpeace is calling on the EU and European governments "to switch subsidies for fossil fuel and nuclear energy into solar technologies and energy efficiency."

Just one year of Europe's fossil fuel and nuclear subsidy "could revolutionise the entire solar renewable energy industry, making it cost-competitive with industry", Greenpeace says. As a first step, the environmental group is campaigning for 1 million solar roofs to be installed in Europe by 2010.

Follow Up:
Greenpeace International, tel + 31 20 523 6200. References: "Energy Subsidies in Europe".

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