Brussels, 2 February 2022 – The European Commission today officially presented a controversial plan to label fossil gas and nuclear energy as sustainable under the taxonomy regulation. The plan would incentivise potentially hundreds of billions of euro in private investments to flow away from clean energy like renewables and instead go to nuclear energy and fossil gas, accelerating the climate crisis.
Apart from producing dangerous and unmanageable radioactive waste, nuclear reactors take so long to build that they cannot come online quickly enough to contribute to reaching EU climate targets by 2030, which scientists say is necessary to prevent the worst effects of the climate crisis. Gas is also the single most polluting fuel in the EU, with soaring prices sparking a European energy crisis.
Greenpeace EU sustainable finance campaigner Ariadna Rodrigo said: “I’d like to report an attempted robbery, please. Someone is trying to take billions of euro away from renewables and sink them into technologies that either do nothing to fight the climate crisis, like nuclear, or which actively make the problem worse, like fossil gas. The suspect is at EU Commission HQ and has disguised herself as someone to be taken seriously on the climate and nature crisis.”
“This anti-science plan represents the biggest greenwashing exercise of all time. It makes a mockery of the EU’s claims to global leadership on climate and the environment. The inclusion of gas and nuclear in the taxonomy is increasingly difficult to explain as anything other than a giveaway to two desperate industries with powerful political friends,” added Rodrigo.
The Platform on Sustainable Finance, a body of over 50 experts from business, academia and civil society, which advises the European Commission on its green agenda, said in its official feedback to the plan that the provisions on nuclear energy, especially radioactive waste, violate a key principle of the taxonomy, which aims to ensure that any technologies included “do no significant harm” to the environment. The Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change, whose members represent more than €50 trillion in assets, has also said that the Commission’s proposals on gas would “channel capital towards activities not compatible with the EU’s commitment to climate neutrality by 2050.”
Environmental lawyers at NGO Client Earth have said that the inclusion in the taxonomy of fossil gas would be incompatible with several EU laws, including the 2021 EU Climate Law. Several governments and organisations are reportedly planning legal challenges to the inclusion of gas and nuclear in the taxonomy.
The Commission’s plan is set to face an immediate backlash from MEPs, who have been cut out of the process and denied the chance to scrutinise this controversial plan until now.
Greenpeace is calling on MEPs to vote this proposal down. A majority of the Parliament, or 353 MEPs, is required to reject it.
Greenpeace is also calling on all financial institutions in the EU not to categorise nuclear and gas investments as environmentally sustainable, and to be transparent and science-based about their energy and climate investment decisions.
Ariadna Rodrigo – Greenpeace EU sustainable finance campaigner: +32 (0)479 99 69 22, firstname.lastname@example.org
Greenpeace EU press desk: +32 (0)2 274 1911, email@example.com
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