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EU climate chief, says energy prices hike should boost transition

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The European Union’s climate czar said Tuesday the 27-nation bloc should make sure that the foremost vulnerable people won’t pay the heaviest price of the green transition, and pledged measures guaranteeing equal burden-sharing across society, amid a worldwide surge of energy prices.

“The one thing we cannot afford is for the social side to being opposed to the climate side. I see this threat very clearly now that we have a discussion about the price hike in the energy sector,” said Frans Timmermans, the European Commission vice president in charge of climate issues.

As the global demand for gas has soared, energy prices have surged across Europe at a time when the EU is pushing for a fast phasing-out of coal and therefore the development of sustainable sources of energy. Carbon prices have rocketed in recent months, having an impression on electricity bills.

“Only about one-fifth of the worth increase are often attributed to Co2 prices rising. the opposite is just a consequence of shortage within the market,” said Timmermans, noting that prices for renewables have kept low and stable.

Timmermans spoke at the EU Parliament in Strasbourg, France, during a debate on proposed legislation aimed toward helping the bloc cutting emissions of the gases that cause heating a minimum of by 55% by 2030.

Timmermans said the worth hikes within the energy sector should lead the bloc to accelerate the transition toward renewable energy. He acknowledged that if the transition had started sooner, the present situation wouldn’t have arisen because countries would be less hooked in to fossil fuels and gas .

The commission’s proposals included within the “Fit for 55 package” presented this summer encompass a few dozen major proposals, starting from the de-facto phasing out of gasoline and diesel cars by 2035 to new levies on gases from heating buildings.

They involve a revamp of the bloc’s emissions trading program, under which companies buy CO2 they emit, and introduce taxes on shipping and aviation fuels for the primary time.

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Timmermans said the EU’s Executive Office of the President proposals, which should be endorsed by EU countries and approved by the Parliament, will give the chance to all or any 27 members to introduce measures protecting their citizens, including reducing VAT taxes, duties on energy or giving mission to households.

Some lawmakers voiced concerns about the impact of the plan on energy prices. Anna Zalewska, an MEP from coal-reliant Poland, said citizens will “unfortunately buy the ambitions of the EU.”

“That’s why i feel what we’d like to try to to is to form sure that they are doing not find yourself in energy poverty,” she said.

Green lawmaker Ska Keller said public subsidies for fossil fuels should be ended immediately in an accelerated switch to renewable energies.

Pascal Canfin, the chair of the Parliament committee on the environment, praised the proposal to place an end to petrol and diesel cars but expressed skepticism at the thought of extending the EU’s carbon market to move and buildings.

“Because we believe that the political cost is extremely high, and therefore the climate impact is extremely low,” he said.

Putting a price on emissions from buildings and transport has raised concerns the measure could trigger social protests across Europe almost like the “yellow vests” movement which started in France in 2018 after a rise in fuel taxes.

World leaders agreed six years ago in Paris to figure to stay global temperatures from increasing quite 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), and ideally no quite 1.5 degrees C (2.7 F) by the top of the century. Scientists say both goals are going to be missed by a good margin unless drastic steps are taken to scale back emissions.

“I believe we will still fix it,” Timmermans said. “I believe we will prevent the climate crisis from getting out of hand and out of control.”

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