December 6, 2021

New deal to put an end to fossil fuel subsidies is only the beginning

A new agreement to put an end to fossil fuel subsidies in Europe has gained wide attention by regional leaders but admit this is only the beginning of a long process, according to Irish MEP, who led the discussions.

Some environmental leaders have welcomed the new agreement but have emphasised the lack of a clear deadline to end fossil fuel subsidies and believe this is a missed opportunity. 

Grace O’Sullivan, the MEP of Ireland South, explained how challenging it was to get to this position, with significant preparations on eliminating fossil fuel subsidies coming down to a very time-consuming process. O’Sullivan highlighted that they had effectively strengthened the wording in the proposal and praised it as a significant step for the commission to agree on a deadline to phase-out fossil fuel subsidies in Europe.


O’Sullivan, a key negotiator for the discussions, explained that ensuring the deadline was in line with limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees was critical in establishing that the EU focuses on reaching the lower limits of the Paris Agreement.

According to the European Commission, European energy subsidies reached 176 billion euros in 2019. Energy subsidies refer to measures taken to support organisations, generally by governments. Fossil fuel subsidies have gradually increased since 2015 across many regions in Europe. Subsidies represent approximately 30% of total energy subsidies, reducing slightly over the last year due to lower energy consumption in response to the pandemic.

Many environmental organisations such as the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Europe believe implementing a strict deadline for phasing out subsidies is a top priority. WWF Europe said the EU has yet to commit to this deadline and other harmful subsidies relating to the recent climate summit in Glasgow.

O’Sullivan stated that the new agreement is due to be signed off on the 10th of December, while MEPs will vote on it early next year, with a consensus that it will pass through easily.