How the backlash against climate action is reshaping the European elections

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Rystad Energy, a private company that watches energy trends, pointed out that the roughly $125 billion the European Union has invested in clean energy technology will soon fall behind the United States.

The main European People’s Party claims the Green Deal as its most important achievement, even as it rolls back unpopular provisions, such as on agriculture, with an eye to the ballot box. He frames it as a way to sever Europe’s dependence on Russia. “We have turned Putin’s challenge into a great new opportunity,” European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen said in January.

Further to the right, the European Conservatives and Reformists have interpreted some of the Green Deal’s policies – such as setting aside land for restoration rather than agriculture – as a matter of culture wars that it says take unfairly targeting farmers. He has promised to examine what he calls the “most problematic objectives” of the Green Deal in his election manifesto.

The Greens’ message to voters is that European businesses need a clear signal that they can compete in the green industries of the future. “These elections will determine the future of European climate policy,” Bas Eickhout, leader of the Green Party, said by telephone. “If we stopped now, it would be bad news for European industry.”

According to research group E3G, much more renewable energy has been brought online, putting the European Union on track to get 70% of its electricity from wind and solar power by 2030. European law sets a price per climate pollution in different sectors. And European car manufacturers are, albeit belatedly, switching to electric.

The Green Deal “has proven to be much stronger and more resilient as a political agenda than many thought it would be,” said Pieter de Pous, an analyst at E3G, “but it is now also facing some formidable political opponents, especially from the far right”.

Christopher Schuetze and Matina Stevis-Gridneff contributed reporting.

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