Climate Change

Natural gas, nuclear energy remain part of EU taxonomy – NGOs to file lawsuit

Natural gas, nuclear energy remains part of EU taxonomy - NGOs to file lawsuit

European Parliament (photo: European Union)

Published

July 6, 2022

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Published:

July 6, 2022

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The European Parliament rejected the motion not to accept the European Commission’s proposal to include investments in natural gas and nuclear energy in its sustainable finance taxonomy. Non-governmental organizations immediately announced they would file a lawsuit against the European Commission.

The aim of the European Union’s climate taxonomy is to direct private investments into projects that are needed to achieve climate neutrality, as well as to eliminate greenwashing. The intention is to introduce strict rules to achieve the goal.

The European Commission proposed in January to include natural gas and nuclear energy in the EU’s taxonomy as transitional solutions. The situation changed after the war in Ukraine, so the opposition to the proposal grew, including in the European Parliament.

If the European Parliament backed the motion, the European Commission would have had to withdraw or amend its proposal.

A slim majority voted to leave gas and nuclear power in the climate taxonomy

The vote was very close because out of the 639 members of the European Parliament who were present, 328 were against the motion, while 278 voted for it, and about thirty abstained. Opponents of the new rules failed to secure the necessary 353 votes, the absolute majority in the parliament with 705 seats.

The only way to exclude gas and nuclear energy from the green taxonomy is if at least 20 of the 27 EU member states request it, which is unlikely to happen, Reuters reported.

The debate on climate taxonomy has divided the EU. France, which relies on nuclear power plants, and Poland, a big consumer of coal, were the strongest proponents of the inclusion of gas and nuclear power, while Austria and Luxembourg have announced a lawsuit against the EU if the proposal is accepted.

NGOs intend to take the European Commission to court

Environmental lawyers and NGOs including WWF, ClientEarth and Greenpeace have announced their intention to take the European Commission to court for adopting a taxonomy that does not comply with the climate targets agreed under the Paris Agreement.

ECF’s Tubiana: This failure will not save fossil investments from becoming stranded assets

Laurence Tubiana, CEO of the European Climate Foundation, said that with gas in the taxonomy, the EU has missed its chance to set a gold standard for sustainable finance. Instead, it has set a dangerous precedent, while politics and vested interests have won over science.

The EU taxonomy now falls short of its own initial goal, which was to prevent greenwashing in the financial system, she said.

Tubiana is certain that the failure wouldn’t save fossil investments from becoming stranded assets. The path towards the energy of the future is already marked, with the Paris Agreement as our compass, and there is no space for fossil fuels, she added.

WWF’s Asin: The decision allows the diversion of billions in investments needed to ensure the climate transition

According to Marta Toporek, a lawyer at ClientEarth, branding fossil gas as transitional and green in the taxonomy is unlawful as it clashes with the EU’s key climate legislation, including the European Climate Law and the taxonomy regulation itself.

Ester Asin, Director at WWF’s European Policy Office, said gas and nuclear are not green and that labeling them as such is blatant greenwashing – this harms the climate, and future generations.

Today, fossil gas and nuclear lobbies hit the jackpot, allowing to divert billions of investments which are sorely needed to ensure the climate transition, she added.

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