Sat. Sep 23rd, 2023
    EU Lawmakers Question Nominee for Next Climate Commissioner on Fossil Fuels and Emissions Targets

    Lawmakers in the European Parliament are planning to interrogate Wopke Hoekstra, the nominated candidate for the role of the EU’s next climate-change chief. They are particularly interested in his stance on phasing out fossil fuels and setting a new emissions target for 2040. Hoekstra, a former Dutch foreign minister, has the support of the Dutch government and European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen to become the European Union’s next Climate Commissioner, responsible for implementing emissions-cutting policies in the EU.

    Although some lawmakers have raised concerns about Hoekstra’s lack of experience in climate policy, it is not uncommon for EU commissioners to transition to a new portfolio and rely on the expertise of the EU’s civil service to get up to speed. Hoekstra will have to undergo a European Parliament hearing, and if he receives negative assessments, he may withdraw his candidacy.

    Questions put forward by EU lawmakers include whether Hoekstra is committed to phasing out fossil fuels in line with the Paris Agreement, and what measures he would propose to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies within the EU. EU countries have continued to provide significant subsidies to the fossil fuel industry, with €52 billion spent in 2021 alone, according to EU Environment Agency data.

    A key responsibility for the new climate commissioner will be to propose the EU’s first emissions-cutting target for 2040, which will involve addressing the conflict between scientific advisors recommending an emissions reduction of up to 95% and industry lobbies arguing against such targets due to economic concerns.

    Despite criticisms, EU officials anticipate that Hoekstra will ultimately be approved by the European Parliament. Rejecting his nomination could result in a delayed appointment, potentially leaving the EU without a new climate commissioner in place for the COP28 summit in November.

    Sources: Reuters