Businesses and NGOs Demand End to EU Tax Exemptions for Fossil Fuels

Statement: Business Organisations and NGOs call on EU decision-makers to remove public subsidies to fossil fuel consumption
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Brussels, 7 June 2021:- More than 40 businesses, think tanks and NGOs today called on the EU to eliminate vast and continuing subsidies to fossil fuels, which the group say run directly counter to the goals of the European Green Deal.

The groups are demanding the change as part of the revision of the Energy Taxation Directive (ETD) – one of a number of EU regulations that will be updated to be consistent with the European Green Deal and the ambition to radically reduce emissions by 2030 (known as the “FitFor55 package”) – set to be released on July 14 [1,2].

This directive – which sets minimum tax requirements for activities for the whole bloc – currently allows lower taxes or tax exemptions for commercial fuel in the aviation, transport, fisheries, energy generation and maritime sectors, and for the production and extraction of coal, gas and oil.

The joint statement argues that these tax breaks – which amount to around €35 billion per year of fossil fuel subsidies across the EU – directly undermine the bloc’s climate objectives, including the elimination of fossil fuel subsidies [3].

“The EU is currently using public money to subsidise the burning of fossil fuels amidst a global climate and biodiversity crisis – this is completely crazy”, said Rebecca Hubbard, Program Director of Our Fish. “In the revision of the Energy Taxation Directive, the EU must stop paying businesses to pollute, or risk the consequences of further contributing to collapsing ecosystems, natural disasters and health crises.”

“Decarbonising the European economy while subsidising fossil fuels is like swimming with one arm behind your back. Fair, green taxes can help slash emissions and tackle growing inequality in Europe,” said Tim Gore, Head of Climate Programme, IEEP.

“Imagine if taxpayers knew how much they are subsidising fossil fuels so that EU fishing vessels can chase dwindling fish stocks around the world. This is the EU’s chance to convince citizens the Green Deal is for real – it must rule out these huge incentives to pollute”, said Flaminia Tacconi, fisheries lawyer at ClientEarth.

“Fossil Fuel Subsidies aren’t just a problem in the Middle East, China or the United States – the EU-27 granted over US$ 41 billion (€34 billion) in 2019. Now is the time for the EU and its Member States to stop all subsidies to coal, oil & gas production and show when they will reform subsidies to consumers of all kinds – and no later than 2025,” said Peter Wooders, Senior Director, Energy, IISD.

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Note to editors

This statement marks the launch of a joint NGO campaign led by Our Fish and ClientEarth, supported by CAN Europe, to stop funding fossil fuels and eliminate these harmful subsidies from the Energy Taxation Directive.

[1] Revision of the Energy Taxation Directive:

[2] Fit For 55 Package, Commission Work Programme 2021:

[3] Euractiv, 9 September 2019, EU countries have ‘no concrete plans’ to phase out fossil fuel subsidies: report.


Diane Vandesmet, ClientEarth Communications officer, [email protected] ; +32 493 41 22 89

Dave Walsh, Our Fish Communications Advisor, [email protected], +34 691 826 764


Press Briefing, 3rd June 2021

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