Climate Policy Updates - July 2022
The EU Parliament’s latest plenary vote resulted in a disappointing and risky decision: declaring gas and nuclear energy as sustainable economic activities for the EU Taxonomy. This step can potentially hinder Europe’s sustainability transition and climate ambition as envisioned by the Green Deal.
Gas and nuclear got the “green” light by EU Parliament
The European Parliament has rejected a motion to oppose the inclusion of nuclear and gas as environmentally sustainable economic activities, proposed in the European Commission’s Taxonomy Delegated Act. The Act allows for inclusion of specific nuclear and gas energy activities, under certain conditions, in the list of environmentally sustainable economic activities covered by the so-called EU Taxonomy.
The proposal comes from the Commission believing that there is a role for private investment in gas and nuclear activities in the green transition as transitional activities contributing to climate change mitigation.
This shocking development has been met with strong criticism from civil society as well as the scientific and investor communities with Greenpeace announcing it will take legal action against the EC. Labelling gas and nuclear as green sources of energy represents an example of institutionalised greenwashing and undermines the credibility of the EC.
In addition, the very process in which the Act was presented as secondary legislation, (meaning that it could not be amended and that only an absolute majority of the Parliament or the Council could reject it) is problematic. NGOs argue that this procedure should be reserved only for technical aspects and not for avoiding democratic scrutiny on political decisions of major significance.
An absolute majority of 353 MEPs was needed for Parliament to veto the Commission’s proposal, but this wasn’t reached: 278 MEPs voted against the sustainable label for gas and nuclear, 75 short of the 353 votes needed.
This vote paved the way for the European Union proposal to pass into law, unless 20 of the 27 Member States decide to oppose the move, which is seen as very unlikely. If neither Parliament, nor Council object to the proposal by 11 July 2022, the Taxonomy Delegated Act will enter into force and apply as of 1 January 2023.