October 15th, 2020 by Zachary Shahan
If you’re just tuning into 2020, the short summary is a nasty little virus spread across the world, killed 1.1 million people (probably considerably more, actually), and led to economic shutdowns that threw an enormous amount of hurt on societies across the globe. One of government’s core roles is to bail out its citizens in such a crisis, which means pumping money into the economy in various ways.
The interesting thing about this crisis is that it presents an opportunity to accelerate industries of the future and drop industries and companies that are just dragging everyone down. Consider it an economic spring cleaning. In the US — well, let’s not go there, since there’s billions if not trillions of dollars worth of corruption swimming around in 20-time con man Donald Trump’s reality TV show (aka the White-House-turned-family-business-and-mafia-for-corporate-welfare garbage fire). In the EU, though, there’s some smart movement underway.
EU lawmakers are pushing to keep fossil fuels out of the €670 billion recovery pot the Union is handling. They’re also pushing for more of that considerable cash money to be put into “green” projects. “The European Parliament’s environment committee voted to raise the amount of green spending from 37% to 47% of the Recovery and Resilience Facility, and to exclude fossil fuel projects from receiving any recovery investments,” Transport & Environment media manager Eoin Bannon writes.
— Transport & Environment (@transenv) October 13, 2020
Electric vehicles have been soaring in the EU, reaching approximately 10% market share this year, about 5 times the share they had in 2019. Renewables are also highly competitive. But we’re on a race against time in which every extra month of gigatons too much climate pollution threaten the future of humanity. Also, if the future of industry is greentech, and you want to be a leader in the future, now is a good time to accelerate investments in greentech.
Luca Bonaccorsi, sustainable finance director at Transport & Environment (T&E), said: “The Next Generation EU fund is supposed to rebuild an EU economy ravaged by the pandemic, and will be entirely paid by the next generation of taxpayers. It’s only fair that their money is invested in a sustainable economy. MEPs have rightly voted for the blanket exclusion of fossil fuels from the recovery fund, and their colleagues on the economic and budgets committees should follow suit.”
I don’t know what this is talking about, but if you really want to get into the weeds of European law and jargon, Transport & Environment adds: “MEPs also voted for spending to be classified as ‘green’ based on the EU’s new sustainable finance law. The Taxonomy Regulation and its technical criteria would replace the current classification, the Rio Markers, which are dated, inadequate and allow massive greenwashing.”
Next in line to weigh in on this matter of helping finance the recovery of the future or the past are the economics and budgetary committees of European Parliament.
Naturally, we here at CleanTechnica think that it makes a lot of sense to invest more (47%) into cleantech in this economic recovery effort and leave fossil fuels to fend for themselves as they are certainly still well equipped to do. It makes no sense to subsidize fossil fuels in 2020.
The potential for this large cleantech stimulus push is exciting on one hand. On the other hand, as an American, given that much of this country has decided it’s fine to let a career con man loot the country and subvert our positions on the world stage (in numerous harmful ways), it is depressing to see how far behind we are and just how badly we have defined deviance down. Under the Obama/Biden stimulus package pulling us out of the Great Recession, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the “green” portion of the recovery was not 47%, but it was considerable. We had a lot of money go into jumpstarting the solar, wind, and electric vehicles industries — and that money went a long way and is still bearing fruit today. There is no discussion on the table today as we sit in the middle of a potentially even bigger economic crisis. In fact, Republicans in the Senate don’t even want to provide the basics of a generic economic recovery. Mitch McConnell let Nancy Pelosi and the House’s second stimulus package sit untouched for several months, only jumping to work at last when he had a tiny amount of time to hypocritically ram a judge through an ignoble Supreme Court confirmation.
The USA once was great — not long ago even. I hesitate to admit it, but what people around the world are now thinking is — my, how the mighty have fallen!
Photos of biking in Groningen and Tesla Supercharging in Amsterdam by Zach Shahan
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