Lawmakers in the European Parliament are preparing to question Wopke Hoekstra, the potential next EU Climate Commissioner, on his plan to phase out fossil fuel subsidies and set a new emissions target for 2040, according to a document seen by Reuters. Hoekstra, with the backing of the Dutch government and EU Chief Ursula von der Leyen, is set to take over the responsibility of emissions-cutting policies in the EU.
The European Parliament has put forward a set of questions for Hoekstra, asking if he will push for an international agreement on ending fossil fuel subsidies and how he plans to phase out such subsidies within the EU. It is worth noting that EU member countries have struggled to abandon fossil fuel subsidies, with expenditures remaining at around 52 billion euros annually since 2015, as per data from the EU Environment Agency.
In addition, the lawmakers have requested that Hoekstra swiftly present an ambitious proposal for a binding and science-based emissions-cutting target for 2040. This target will require finding a balance between the suggestions of scientific advisers, who recommend an emissions cut of up to 95%, and industry lobbies, who argue that such a goal is unrealistic.
Some EU lawmakers have expressed concerns about Hoekstra’s previous experience, as climate policymaking was not a focus of his previous roles as foreign minister and finance minister. However, EU officials believe that the Parliament is unlikely to reject his appointment, as doing so would mean the EU would not have a new climate commissioner in place for the UN COP28 climate summit in November.