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Thursday, Jul 07, 2022

MEPs strike down EU plans to label nuclear and gas as green investment

MEPs strike down EU plans to label nuclear and gas as green investment

The European Commission’s highly controversial plan to label gas and nuclear as sustainable energy sources was on Tuesday struck down by two key parliamentary committees.
The Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee and the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee rejected the proposal on Tuesday, with 76 MEPs voting to object and 62 voting in favor.

In a statement, MEPs on the committees said they "recognize the role of nuclear and fossil gas in guaranteeing stable energy supply during the transition to a sustainable economy."

"But, they consider that the technical screening standards proposed by the Commission, in its delegated regulation, to support their inclusion do not respect the criteria for environmentally sustainable economic activities as set out in Article 3 of the Taxonomy Regulation," the statement added.

They also requested that any new or amended delegated acts be subject to public consultation and impact assessments.

The objection will be put before the whole plenary in the first week of July. If the hemicycle replicates the outcome of the committees, the Commission’s plan will be officially scrapped.

The move pits lawmakers against a majority of member states, led by France, who had supported the inclusion of both gas and nuclear in the EU taxonomy.

A smaller group comprising Luxembourg, Spain, Austria and Denmark was vehemently opposed to the label, while Germany, which is highly dependent on gas, objected to the inclusion of nuclear as sustainable.

The committees' rejection was welcomed by climate activists.

Greenpeace EU sustainable finance campaigner Ariadna Rodrigo said in a statement that "MEPs stood with Ukraine today by voting to stop feeding Putin’s war machine with more money and inflaming the climate and nature crisis."

"After more than 100 days of this devastating war, the European Parliament must now once and for all reject the greenwashing of fossil gas and nuclear energy in July. Do not give this shameful gift to Putin and his lobbyists," she also said.

Mariana López Dávila, Program Manager on Sustainable Finance, Environmental Coalition on Standards (ECOS) also commented, saying the vote "shows the Parliament’s willingness to stay true to science, and gives us hope that the EU can still lead the world into a truly sustainable future."

"However, the veto is not yet a done deal. Members of the European Parliament stand a unique chance to walk the talk, and avoid greenwashing well-meaning investments into environmentally-harming projects," she added.

Adopted in 2021, the taxonomy is a catalogue that helps private and public investors make informed choices about climate-conscious investments.

It covers a long list of projects that make a "substantial contribution" to at least one environmental objective of the EU's climate policy while avoiding significant harm to any of the others.

Sectors already labeled as green under the taxonomy include solar energy, geothermal, hydrogen, wind power, hydropower and bioenergy.

The Commission later proposed to add gas and nuclear, arguing the two sources could be used as a temporary bridge to wean the EU off coal and achieve climate neutrality by 2050.
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