What an embarrassment! EU rumbled as £11m private jet budget destroys new green pledge

EU: Ursula von der Leyen's Green Deal slammed by Donato

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According to Politico’s Mari Eccles, the EU is replacing its existing private jets policy of €10.71million between 2016 and 2021, with a substantially higher sum for the next four years. The new budget for private air travel will be allocated to the European Commission, the European Parliament, the Council and the External Action Service.

Ms Eccles wrote: “Even as the bloc pledges to slash emissions to meet its climate targets, Brussels has increased the amount it anticipates spending on ‘air taxi’ flights for officials to €13.5million, according to a document on the EU’s tender database.

“The new four-year contract — which will cover flights for the European Commission, the Parliament, the Council and the External Action Service — replaces the existing five-year arrangement that set €10.71million as the maximum value that could be spent on private jets between 2016 and 2021.”

The gobsmacking figure comes despite the bloc pledged to cut its emissions to meet climate change targets.

Only last month, the European Commission published a sweeping package of climate policies including binding targets for countries to restore and grow forests, peatlands and other natural “carbon sinks” that suck CO2 out of the atmosphere.

The European Union’s huge policy package to make good on a pledge to reduce net greenhouse emissions by 55 percent from 1990 levels by 2030 has stirred opposition from climate campaigners and even within the executive European Commission.

Teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg cast doubt on the level of ambition.

“Unless the EU tear up their new Fitfor55 package, the world will not stand a chance of staying below 1.5°C of global heating. That’s not an opinion, once you include the full picture it’s a scientific fact. MindTheGap between words and action,” she tweeted.

Greenpeace was another high profile dissenter.

“Celebrating these policies is like a high jumper claiming a medal for running in under the bar,” the group’s EU director Jorgo Riss said.

Green politicians in the European Parliament, who had pushed for an emissions cut of 60 percent by 2030, welcomed the proposals but identified room for improvement.

Some of the policies have proposed time horizons of several years, which activists and Green politicians say is too long.

“For all the hype, many policies won’t kick in for 10 years or more, like new polluting cars still being sold up to 2035,” said Greenpeace’s Riss.

Combustion engines are also a bugbear for the Greens/EFA Group in the European Parliament, which called for an end to their sale by 2030.

The inclusion of biomass, produced from burning wood pellets or chips, in its energy plans, has also been divisive.

“Others (other policies) will actually fuel the fire, like labelling the burning of trees as renewable energy,” Riss added.

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On Monday, a new report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) said global warming of about 1.1 degrees Celsius has brought many changes in different regions, from more severe droughts and storms to rising seas.

Those will all increase with further warming, but it is not too late to cut climate-heating emissions to keep temperature rise to internationally agreed goals of “well below” 2C and ideally 1.5C – which would help stop or slow down some of the impacts, the report said.

UN officials said the IPCC had increasingly sounded the alarm in its regular reports over the past three decades, but that had not spurred adequate policy responses.

“The world listened but didn’t hear; the world listened but it didn’t act strongly enough – and as a result, climate change is a problem that is here now,” said Inger Andersen, executive director of the UN Environment Programme.

“Nobody is safe and it’s getting worse faster,” she told journalists at the online report launch.

IPCC Chair Hoesung Lee said the report provided an improved understanding of climate change and how it is already playing out around the world.

“It tells us that it is indisputable that human activities are causing climate change and making extreme weather events more frequent and severe,” he said, describing it as a “valuable toolbox” for negotiators at November’s COP26 climate talks.

All parts of the world are being affected, he added, noting the report contains detailed information on impacts by region, as well as fast-developing knowledge on attributing extreme weather events to climate change.

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