22 September 2020
The European Parliament has come up with a host of “green measures” for its Green Deal programme. These include the Plastic Tax, Eco Bonuses and Green Bonds, as well as development and funding initiatives included in the Eco Schools plan.
Efforts are also continuing in order to adopt clean energy solutions, a process started several years ago. In addition to the fight against CO2 emissions, the EU is also encouraging the introduction of biogas plants and the development of sustainable projects for businesses through the support of a new commission focusing on reducing the use of fossil fuel subsidies which damage the environment. As part of this, the Ministry for Economy has granted guarantees of up to 80% for decarbonisation, circular economy and urban regeneration.
Let’s take a look at the detail behind the “green measures” included in the European Green Deal, which has already been launched and which will continue until the end of the first stage in 2022, with a view to achieving its targets by 2028.
Plastic Tax, Eco Bonuses and Green Bond
The new Plastic Tax has been in place since July 2020 and includes a payment of 80 cents for each kilogram of single-use plastic and tetrapak products (the same tax in Italian law is set at 45 cents). Products made from recycled plastic and compound products with a plastic content of less than 40% are exempt from the measure.
The Eco Bonuses, meanwhile, are tax deductions designed to promote energy efficiency measures, specifically the creation of micro-cogeneration plants and building developments. However, the bonuses are also available to members of the public when they buy pieces of furniture and electrical appliances with higher energy ratings after renovating their homes. In 2021 and 2022, companies will be able to access a tax credit for up to 10% of the cost of patents, consultancy and employees involved in environmental projects.
Finally, Green Bonds are new financial instruments to be used by Member States to support programmes designed to fight climate change, for energy reconversion, circular economy, environmental protection and sustainable use of land.
Biogas plants and the commission to reduce the use of fossil fuel subsidies
For Biogas plants that are coming to the end of their life and that have been operating since 2007, incentives of up to a maximum of 15 years are available. They will be provided by the European Commission, with the Ministries for Economic Development of the Members States set to establish the programme’s resources and coverage. Piero Gattoni, President of the Italian Biogas Consortium, said the following on the matter: “The approval of these regulations sends out a strong message and shows the way forward for the agricultural biogas sector. The efforts made in the last 15 years are being rewarded. During that period, over €4 billion was invested and more than 12,000 stable jobs were created. It’s an essential first step towards building on the wealth of strategic infrastructure created by agricultural companies, who have invested in technology and sustainability to implement an agricultural circular economy model which has become another example of Italian excellence.”
In order to regulate efforts to cut the use of fossil fuel and support companies as they change to more renewable energy sources, the EU set up its new commission to reduce the use of fossil fuel subsidies in January 2020. Part of the Ministry for Environment, the commission will look to reduce environmentally damaging subsidies and come up with proposals designed to support the switch to renewable sources. The Minister for the Environment will lead the commission, which will also feature representatives from the Ministries for Economy, Economic Development, Transport and Agricultural Policies, in addition to three industry experts.
Other Green Projects and the Eco Schools Plan
In order to implement Green Projects, the EU has also brought in additional green measures designed to encourage investment in and projects to promote decarbonisation, urban regeneration and circular economy.
Additional measures to further slash CO2 levels have already been discussed and are expected to be introduced by October 2020: these include a tax on company cars based on their percentage of harmful emissions, efforts to replace public sector vehicles with electric, hybrid or hydrogen cars (purchase or hire for at least 50% of the total) and the end of the exemption on the royalties of large-scale gas reserves. A regulation is also expected to be introduced to help with energy consumption in public housing, which could benefit from net metering from other homes, where unused energy could be used by other homes instead of being released into the national grid.
Finally, the Eco Schools Plan includes a series of interventions designed to increase the energy efficiency of public buildings. However, at the same time, the plan aims to engage with and raise awareness in schools around the latest sustainability principles, on both the social and educational levels. For instance, the Plan includes measures to modernise green spaces in schools and turn some of them into fully fledged outdoor “workshops”, where pupils can learn more about plants and animals.