EU planning to spend billions on climate issues

By Daniel J. Graeber
EU planning to spend billions on climate issues
U.S. President Donald Trump (R) and first lady Melania Trump (C) speak with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on the sideline of the G7 Summit in Italy on May 26. Germany accounts for nearly 23 percent of all emissions tied to fossil fuels in the EU. Photo by Tiberio Barchielli/Chigi Palace Press Office/EPA

June 1 (UPI) -- The European Union is planning to spend tens of billions on climate-related issues by 2020, EU sources said ahead of the U.S. announcement Thursday on the Paris agreement.

U.S. President Donald Trump is expected to announce his intention Thursday to start the process of pulling out of the international climate accord.


Speaking from Berlin on Wednesday, European President Jean-Claude Juncker stressed that leaving the treaty isn't automatic.

"The climate agreement says: It takes three, four years after the treaty took effect in November 2016 to withdraw from the agreement," he said. "This means that the illusion that one could simply disappear into thin air, will not happen. The law is the law, and it must be complied with by everyone."

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From the campaign trail last year, Trump pledged to pull the United States out of the agreement, but waffled on his stance early in 2017. Nevertheless, he suggested on social media that leaving the climate deal would be part of his broader national economic agenda that puts U.S. interests first.

From among his critics, U.S. Sens. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., and Jack Reed, D-R.I., said the Paris treaty has implications that extend beyond the climate and the environment.


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"Leaving the Paris agreement would damage relationships with our allies and weaken American leadership on the global stage," they wrote in a letter to Trump.

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During his first visit overseas since taking office, the president took a more measured approach as his European counterparts pressed him on trade issues and the climate accord. He still drew criticism from his counterparts, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Germany accounts for nearly 23 percent of all emissions tied to fossil fuels in the EU, though it has one of the region's greener economies. Eurostat, the record-keeping arm of the EU, reported a preliminary bloc-wide estimate for carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuels declined 0.4 percent compared with last year.

Speaking from Brussels, European officials said the effort to advance a low-carbon economy had considerable economic support. A framework through 2020 calls for about 20 percent of the EU budget to be used on climate-related issues.

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Over the framework's six-year period, which started in 2014, about $224 billion could be allocated to climate action measures, an EU source told UPI.

Last week, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said the net impact from pro-climate policies for the Group of 20 industrialized economies, which includes the U.S. and the European economies, would be a gain of about 1 percent for gross domestic production by 2021.


The G20 countries account for 85 percent of global GDP and 80 percent of the emissions of carbon dioxide, a harmful greenhouse gas. If the efforts to avoid climate change result in a reduction of damage like coastal flooding, the OECD said the net gain would be about 5 percent for global GDP by 2050.

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