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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Briefing: What if adopting the Energy Taxation Directive was a mitigation action under UNCLOS?

Without the elimination of fossil fuel subsidies from our economies, we will not be able to reach climate objectives under EU law or broader climate objectives under the Paris agreement, in order to ensure a decent future for the planet and humankind in the coming decades. Last December’s COP28 climate summit underlined the urgent need to transition away from fossil fuels and the phasing out of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies that do not address energy poverty or just transitions.

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Energy transition and Decarbonisation of the fishing fleet: the Low Impact Fishers of Europe (LIFE)’s Perspective

Shifting from fossil fuel dependency to a zero carbon economy is as imperative for fisheries as it is for other production sectors. Decarbonisation must also be coherent with the other processes affecting the fisheries sector, and in line with fishery management objectives. Decarbonisation must not be pursued at the expense of biodiversity conservation, nature restoration, and the transition towards a fair and sustainable food system. On the other hand, if the vision of the fisheries of the future is well framed and the energy transition is well aligned with the CFP objectives to end overfishing, conserve and restore the marine environment, and is consistent with the objectives of achieving economic, social and employment benefits, it could provide a great opportunity to revitalise the small-scale low impact fishing sector, and give them prospects of future.