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The EU needs an ambitious climate strategy for industry. So why is Giorgia Meloni its chief supporter?

European governments have for many years basked in a sense of climate superiority over the US. We had the most ambitious climate goals; we were the constructive actor at Cop conferences; we had carbon-pricing mechanisms; and since 1990, we have reduced emissions by 28% against just 2% in the US. The US, by contrast, had climate-denying Republicans.

The Biden administration now has the world’s most generous package of climate incentives – a $370bn green subsidy package, which goes by the misnomer Inflation Reduction Act. But instead of celebrating the US handouts and tax breaks for investment in such things as electric vehicles and solar panels, many European governments are furious.

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Posted: February 3, 2023, 12:00 pm

Within eight months of Russia invading Ukraine, the EU’s 27 states had replaced about 80% of the natural gas they used to get from Moscow

The worst-case scenarios piled up over the summer months. Germany’s economic minister warned of “catastrophic” industrial shutdowns, fraying supply chains and mass unemployment. France’s president urged citizens to turn down the heating. Spain asked why countries that hadn’t got hooked on Russian gas should bail out neighbours who had lectured them about fiscal discipline in the past.

Former Russian president Dmitry Medvedev, meanwhile, gleefully predicted that Europeans would be “freezing in their homes” because they hadn’t thought through the consequences of throwing their support behind Ukraine. “The cold is coming soon,” he said, menacingly, in June last year.

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Posted: February 3, 2023, 5:00 am

Even on the company’s broader metric, the greener stuff came out at only one-third of total expenditure

The chief executive has changed at Shell but the song remains the same. The energy transition will be “balanced” and “we intend to remain disciplined while delivering compelling shareholder returns,” declared Wael Sawan. Translation: the company will not use the sudden arrival of spectacular financial riches to boost spending on renewables.

Being “disciplined” is, of course, an admirable ambition when presented starkly and without context. No chief executive of any company is ever likely to tell investors that the plan is to take wild punts on projects with little prospect of a decent return. But there is a world of nuance between the extremes.

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Posted: February 2, 2023, 7:30 pm

Non-profit group Global Witness urges US regulator to investigate oil giant and potentially impose fines over apparent ‘mislabeling’

Shell has misleadingly overstated how much it is spending on renewable energy and should be investigated and potentially fined by the US financial regulator, according to a non-profit group which has lodged a complaint against the oil giant.

The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has been urged to act over Shell’s most recent annual report in which it stated 12% of its capital expenditure was funneled into a division called Renewables and Energy Solutions in 2021. The division’s webpage, which is adorned with pictures of wind turbines and solar panels, says it is working to invest in “wind, solar, electric vehicle charging, hydrogen, and more”.

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Posted: February 1, 2023, 1:00 pm

Proposed use of tax credits follows pressure to respond to Biden’s $369bn green subsidy scheme in US

The EU is stepping up its green subsidy race with the US through plans to loosen state aid rules on tax credits for renewable energy projects.

European policymakers have been under pressure to respond to the US president Joe Biden’s $369bn (£298bn) Inflation Reduction Act, which aims to encourage renewables investment in everything from electric cars to wind turbines.

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Posted: January 30, 2023, 3:02 pm