BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The European Commission unveiled a 750 billion euro ($826.3 billion) package on Wednesday which it says will put fighting climate change at the heart of the bloc’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
Billed as the world’s biggest “green” stimulus, it aims to tackle the economic slump, while fulfilling the Commission’s pledge to slash EU emissions from more than 4 billion tonnes each year now to “net zero” in 2050.
Green funds would also come from the EU’s budget for 2021-27, worth around one trillion euros, and private money.
The Commission will unveil the specifics of its climate spending plans on Thursday. Here are its spending proposals from a draft document seen by Reuters. They will need approval from the 27 EU governments and the European Parliament:
The plan earmarks 91 billion euros per year in EU grants and loan guarantees for renovations such as rooftop solar panels, insulation and renewable heating systems.
The EU money should trigger private investments, bringing the annual total to 350 billion euros.
Schools, hospitals and social housing get priority, but the facility includes 5 billion euros of guarantees for “green mortgages”, tying low-carbon renovations into property sales.
The Commission wants the EU to produce 1 million tonnes of clean hydrogen - a zero-carbon fuel produced using renewable electricity, which could power traditionally polluting industrial processes.
An existing EU fund could push up to 30 billion euros into the fuel. The Commission would double the EU hydrogen support scheme to 1.3 billion euros.
The bloc will also launch a carbon “contracts for difference” scheme, to pay hydrogen projects the difference between the price of an EU carbon permit and the actual cost of cutting CO2.
The EU will tender 15 gigawatts of renewable energy capacity in the next two years, with expected investments of 25 billion euros.
Renewable projects will also receive support from a 10 billion euro pot of loans administered by the European Investment Bank.
A two-year 20 billion euro EU scheme of grants and guarantees should boost sales of “clean” vehicles, with 2 million electric and hydrogen vehicle charging stations to be installed by 2025.
A 40-60 billion euro fund, pulled from existing cash pots in the EU budget, will target investments in zero-emission trains.
The Commission may also tweak existing EU transport funds to trigger up to 20 billion euros in investments for cities rolling out cycling infrastructure and clean public transport.
Reporting by Kate Abnett; editing by Philip Blenkinsop and Gareth Jones