EU lawmakers to grill new climate chief on fossil fuels

The EU has struggled to encourage its member countries to phase out fossil fuel subsidies. EU countries spent around 52 billion euros on such subsidies in 2021 – an annual total that has not decreased since 2015, EU Environment Agency data show.

Hoekstra must answer the lawmakers’ questions in writing, before his Oct. 2 hearing.

The EU lawmakers also asked if he will “swiftly present an ambitious proposal for a binding and science-based target for 2040”.

The new climate commissioner will propose the EU’s first emissions-cutting target for 2040. That will involve balancing competing calls – including from scientific advisers recommending an emissions cut of up to 95 per cent, and industry lobbies warning that is unrealistic.

Some EU lawmakers have warned Hoekstra will face a tough hearing, to prove his readiness to lead climate policymaking – a topic that was not the focus of his previous roles as foreign minister and finance minister.

Still, EU officials say the Parliament is unlikely to reject him. Doing that would likely mean the EU does not have a new climate commissioner in place for the UN COP28 climate summit in November.

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