New EU Guidelines to Sabotage Real Infrastructure Investments

The new EU Commission guidelines for investments in the infrastructure sector pose uncertainties about what will be possible in the future. That applies not only to the necessary reconstruction of the infrastructure destroyed by the mid-July flash floods in Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands, but also to projects in general in Europe,

On July 29, the EU Commission published its new guidelines on the subject, declaring that they “will help mainstream climate considerations in future investment and development of infrastructure projects from buildings, network infrastructure to a range of built systems and assets. That way, institutional and private European investors will be able to make informed decisions on projects deemed compatible with the Paris Agreement and the EU climate objectives”

The guidance, the Commission explained, “will thus help the EU deliver the European Green Deal“ and “make EU spending greener. It is aligned with a greenhouse gas emission reduction pathway of minus 55 percent net emissions by 2030 and climate neutrality by 2050.”

Having stated that climate change is already having a negative impact on infrastructure, the Commission goes into the obvious and the ridiculous, writing that “building in areas that are likely to be affected by sea level rise requires particular attention; similarly, heat tolerance for railway tracks needs to account for the projected higher maximum temperature rather than historical values [of 1–2 degrees!]. It is therefore essential to clearly identify – and consequently to invest in – infrastructure that is prepared for a climate-neutral and climate-resilient future.” Therefore, “for infrastructure with a lifespan beyond 2050, the guidance stipulates that the operation, maintenance and final decommissioning of any project should be carried out in a climate-neutral way, which may include circular economy considerations, such as the recycling or repurposing of materials,“ the document states, adding that „climate risk assessment“ would have to be made before projects get launched.

This implies that if carried out at all, infrastructure projects —railways, waterways, highways, bridges, flood control and others—would be slowed down even more than under the current climate-related bureaucratic procedures. Since infrastructure projects are largely dependent on the availability of steel at affordable prices, new EU regulations raising punitive tariffs for imports of goods produced in countries on a Commission “climate risk” blacklist, targetting China prominently, importing of steel at low costs from Chinese steel makers would be obstructed. After decades of Commission-led substantial cuts of steel production in Europe because of alleged ”overcapacity”, production by European steel makers at required volumes is not possible today, and will be tremendously expensive if produced with hydrogen, as the Commission mandates. The new EU guidelines are therefore designs for protracted deindustrialization strategies in Europe.

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