We use cookies to help improve and maintain our site. More information.
close

December 12, 2019

Greta is right - the EU’s fight against climate change is most likely a PR exercise

Greta Thunberg made a comment on climate change that pretty much sums up our own view of the modern history of multilateral governance in general - all the way from the eurozone to climate change:

"The real danger is when politicians and CEOs are making it look like real action is happening when in fact almost nothing is being done apart from clever accounting and creative PR."

Remember our tirades about policy-by-press-release, like Jean-Claude Juncker’s €315bn investment programme? The sole purpose of that was to impress the gullible, to give us the sense that the EU was doing something when in reality it was only putting new numbers on old programmes. The notion of leveraging the EIB is fine in principle, but it requires massive changes in the EIB’s statutes for which there isn't the necessary unanimity. 

When you replace actual policies with PR stunts, you trade short-term headlines for a long-term loss of credibility.  Brussels-based journalists are still beholden to the Commission. But as we saw in the UK, and are seeing increasingly in Germany now, they are no longer a good bellwether of public opinion back home. The root cause of the investment crisis in the eurozone is the stability pact - a target that reduces the role of investments to that of an economic residual. The root cause behind climate change is over-reliance on carbon. It requires hard choices. The experience of Juncker's investment hoax has led us to be very sceptical of the Commission’s role in the climate change debate as well. It would be the first time in the EU’s history where the Commission goes full-frontal against the industry.  

Listening to German radio yesterday, we got a sense of the German establishment's deep hostility to the climate change targets. Germans like to express verbal support for any good cause, and are disappointed that Germany ranks behind India and Brasil in a much-watched climate-change index. But the German priority is not to meet multilateral targets, but to secure their own prosperity. The German economic strategy has been to make carbon more efficient, not to replace it. This is a fight about Germany’s economic future.

We are therefore not surprised to learn German industry flatly rejected Ursula von der Leyen’s green deal, as reflected by the BDI president’s comment yesterday that climate policies were killing long-term investment plans. A German radio programme calculated yesterday how many wind turbines you need to a run single steel plant in Duisburg: 3500, apparently. The conclusion was that an exit from coal-fired power stations is impossible if you want to keep up steel production. The head of Bosch said the proposed strengthening of the CO2 reductions by 2030, to 55% from a baseline target, would mean the end of the fuel-driven engine. We are sure this is right, but the comment is also indicate that German industry still clings on to the technologies of the past, rather than seeking leadership in a new generation of emerging technologies.

Show Comments Write a Comment

This is the public section of the Eurointelligence Professional Briefing, which focuses on the geopolitical aspects of our news coverage. It appears daily at 2pm CET. The full briefing, which appears at 9am CET, is only available to subscribers. Please click here for a free trial, and here for the Eurointelligence home page.

 

Recent News

  • March 23, 2020
  • Orbán seeks to extend his powers
  • UK as the double counterfactual
  • March 09, 2020
  • Lockdown measures are not working
  • Will the ceasefire hold in Idlib?
  • February 24, 2020
  • Coronavirus comes to Europe
  • Municipal elections - a precursor for Le Pen?
  • Germany and France get involved over Idlib
  • February 14, 2020
  • What defines political success nowadays?
  • Forget the green deal. Call it climate hypocrisy instead.
  • February 05, 2020
  • Russia and Turkey on collision course
  • Politics of rupture - Ireland edition
  • What drives Italian parties to support or reject early elections
  • January 27, 2020
  • How the left lays the ground for Le Pen
  • Project Fear - Irish Edition
  • January 20, 2020
  • The EU in a diplomatic bear hug
  • French pension strikes come to a halt as violence grows
  • Scholz to stick to fiscal surplus in 2021
  • January 13, 2020
  • Libya - the new playground for diplomatic posturing
  • NI has a government at last
  • January 06, 2020
  • A decade that started with a bang
  • What to expect of Spain's next government
  • Divide et impera: Macron's pension reform strategy
  • December 23, 2019
  • What’s behind the NordStream2 sanctions
  • An important ruling by the Dutch constitutional court
  • This time Popolare di Bari brings EU bank resolution into question
  • The reversal of the eurozone external balances
  • No Christmas truce in France
  • Brace for Erdogan's foreign policy ambitions
  • On the decline of the centrist left
  • December 19, 2019
  • Merkel rejects NordStream2 counter-sanctions
  • December 16, 2019
  • What the failure in Madrid says about multilateral governance
  • December 13, 2019
  • EU climate disagreement overshadows budget
  • House of Representatives approves law to sanction NordStream 2
  • December 12, 2019
  • Greta is right - the EU’s fight against climate change is most likely a PR exercise