The European Commission last month proposed to include gas and nuclear energy in the EU’s sustainable finance taxonomy; a system for labelling climate-friendly investments.
Two groups of lawmakers – the Greens and the Socialists and Democrats – confirmed by a Wednesday deadline that they would file a motion to reject the rules, two EU officials told Reuters.
German Green lawmaker Michael Bloss confirmed the Greens’ objection. “Dear Commissioner, I have a simple question: The EU Parliament has clearly voted “No!” to the inclusion of nuclear and fossil gas in the green EU Taxonomy. However, you now want to include them. How is that not disrespecting a decision taken by the EU-Parliament?”, he said in a tweet.
Labelling nuclear and gas as green is pure greenwashing!
Unfortunately, the EU Commission under @vonderleyen has now done just that.
We @GreensEFA clearly oppose this.
— Michael Bloss (@micha_bloss) January 1, 2022
At least half of the Parliament’s 705 lawmakers would need to vote to reject the rules. The level of support in Parliament is unclear, as few lawmaker groups have a firm position and opinion is split among their members.
Gas emits less CO2 than coal when burned, and some countries lobbied hard for the taxonomy to incentivise gas investments to help them phase out coal. The invasion of Ukraine by Russia, Europe’s main gas supplier, has intensified that debate.
Nuclear energy does not release any harmful greenhouse gases when it is generated, but the construction of a conventional nuclear power plant may result in some emissions and critics worry about the risk of nuclear accidents and how to store radioactive nuclear waste.
Frans Timmermans, the executive vice president of the EU’s Green New Deal, said in a press briefing on March 9 that reliance on nuclear energy should be accompanied by an equal buildout of renewables.
“It is imaginable that some Member States would decide to, for instance, not use gas as a transitional energy carrier but then remain a bit longer with nuclear or with coal than they had imagined,” Timmermans said. “If that is combined with a speeding up for the introduction of renewable energy for climate and for our energy self-sufficiency, that could be two wins.”
Kim Talus, a professor of energy law at Tulane University explained:
“Adding nuclear capacity is clearly part of the measures that should be taken, but nuclear has always been a difficult topic for the EU as certain countries, like France and Finland, are pro-nuclear and other countries, like Germany and Sweden, are against nuclear power.”
The European Commission has proposed on March 8 an outline of a plan to make Europe independent from Russian fossil fuels, namely the REPowerEU. The plan will seek to diversify gas supplies, speed up the roll-out of renewable gases and replace gas in heating and power generation.
This can reduce EU demand for Russian gas by two thirds before the end of the year. How realistic this plan is remains to be seen, as the fallout in terms of rising prices of gas still needs to be worked out. Also much depends on Putin’s next moves regarding gas – still his major economic weapon that he hasn’t yet used.
The news today reported that Putin is asking for Russian gas exports to be paid in Roubles, which would force the West to indirectly support the Rouble and his war effort. A refusal would push Russia in the arms of China as the only possible alternative market for its gas. Much will also depend on whether the war gets bogged down and drags out without resolution at the negotiations table.
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed here by Impakter.com columnists are their own, not those of Impakter.com. In the Featured Photo: European Commission Headquarters. Featured Photo Credit: Flickr.com