Horizon 2020

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Horizon 2020 describes itself as "the financial instrument implementing the Innovation Union, a Europe 2020 flagship initiative aimed at securing Europe's global competitiveness." It includes "€ 31,748 million to help address major concerns shared by all Europeans such as climate change, developing sustainable transport and mobility, making renewable energy more affordable, [and] ensuring food safety and security."[1]

Inclusion of gas for renewables funding

In May 2012, the Guardian released a confidential document agreed by member states that set out the framework for Horizon 2020. The news organization found that the original document had been altered by officials to include explicit references to funding for gas under the renewable energy funds – despite gas being a fossil fuel and a mature technology.[2]

The document refers to an EU roadmap published in 2011 that showed emissions from the power sector would have to be cut by 90% by 2050, to meet the EU's targets. To this has been added a new sentence: "The roadmap also shows that gas, in the short to medium term, can contribute to the transformation of the energy system." The document goes on to include gas as a low-carbon source of power: "To achieve these ambitious reductions, significant investments need to be made in research, development, demonstration and market roll-out of efficient, safe and reliable low-carbon energy technologies, including gas, and services." The last paragraph of the document shows that the R&D funding programme originally intended only to support renewables has been altered to explicitly include fossil fuels: "Activities [of the research and development programme] shall focus on research, development and full scale demonstration - of innovative renewables, efficient and flexible fossil power plants (including those using natural gas) and carbon capture and storage technologies." The reference to fossil fuels and gas has been inserted, and shows that gas is now being considered in an official EU programme as a "low-carbon" form of energy, equivalent to renewables or nuclear power – despite its status as a fossil fuel.[2]

The Guardian reported that, although it is impossible to tell which member state asked for the amendment, Brussels insiders said it was likely to have needed the support of several member states.[2]

The decision was made in part by a report commissioned by the European Gas Advocacy Forum (EGAF), an industry lobbying group. The report appears to show the EU could meet its 2050 climate targets €900bn more cheaply using gas than by investing in renewables. The Guardian notes that "although switching from coal to gas would help countries meet their short term emissions targets, in the longer term they would be left with fleets of redundant, high-emitting fossil fuel power stations – unless they were fitted with expensive technology to capture and store the carbon dioxide underground. However, this technology is still unproven and it is likely to be decades before it can be widely used."[3]

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