EU has overstated its climate action by €72bn

Despite claiming it had met is target, the EU missed its self-imposed target of spending at least 20 per cent of its 2014-2020 budget on climate action, according to a special report published by the European Court of Auditors (ECA).

The European Commission had announced that the EU had met the target, reporting
that it had spent €216bn on climate action. However, the auditors found that the reported
spending was not always relevant to climate action, and that the amount reported as having
been spent for that purpose had been overstated by at least €72bn.

The auditors also fear that reliability issues could remain in the Commission's reporting for the 2021-2027 period, when the EU’s new climate spending target will rise to 30 per cent. The auditors express concerns that despite proposed improvements in reporting methods, most of the issues identified for 2014-2020 will still remain.

“Addressing climate change is a key priority for the EU, which has set itself challenging climate and
energy objectives”, said Joëlle Elvinger, the ECA member who led the audit. “We found that in
2014-2020, not all the reported climate-related spending under the EU budget was actually
relevant to climate action. That is why we make several recommendations to better link the EU’s
expenditure to its climate and energy objectives. For instance, we recommend that the Commission
should justify the climate relevance of agricultural funding.”

The main areas of EU public spending programmes reported as being climate-relevant are
agriculture, infrastructure and cohesion. It is in agricultural funding that climate spending is overstated the most at almost €60 billion, according to the auditors. The Commission reported that 26 per cent of EU agricultural funding was climate-relevant, about half of the EU’s total climate spending. However, farm greenhouse gas emissions in the EU have not decreased since 2010.

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