Despite the activists’ pressure, last week the European Parliament moved ahead with the plan to label nuclear and natural gas-fired power plants as green investments. The regulation will apply as of January 1, 2023.
The parliament fell short of the minimum 353 votes needed to reject the European Commission’s proposal. Parliamentarians, with the defining support of the whole conservative European People’s Party, voted to allow gas and nuclear energy to be classified as sustainable investments on financial markets.
After a year of delay, strong lobbying from businesses and governments, and a prior European Parliament rejection, the EU executive branch has welcomed the result.
As defined by the Commissioners, the taxonomy should guide investment toward projects that are in line with the bloc’s goal to be climate neutral by 2050:
- On the one hand, supporters of nuclear power, including the 12 EU member states who backed the inclusion, defend that nuclear power is not more harmful than other industries included in the taxonomy. Besides, they see these sources of energy as an essential ally to tackle climate change.
- On the other hand, major reactions have arisen among climate campaigners, green parties, scientists, and influential personalities. They argue this resolution is going to enable investors to shift potential funds from renewable energies to older and dirtier energies.
The Greens stand out against a “textbook greenwashing”
The European Greens reacted sternly: “This is GREENWASHING. It presents a threat to energy security and is a setback for the clean energy transition”.
The party maintains that this outcome undermines the reliability of the EU’s taxonomy, ignores the science, and worsens the climate situation.
Thomas Waitz, Co-Chair of the European Green Party asserted:
“This is a catastrophic loss for the EU’s leadership on labelling green investments. To put fossil gas and nuclear in the same category as clean renewables, is textbook greenwashing. […]
This greenwashing will do nothing but deepen our reliance on Russian fuels and lock us further into climate chaos. As Greens, we will fight hard to overcome this setback, together with civil society and activists. The fight for a clean, sustainable future is not over.”
Last resort of hope: Austria and Luxembourg will go to court
In a fierce response after the European Parliament voting, Luxembourg and Austria are willing to counter the polemic resolution in court.
“It is neither credible, ambitious nor knowledge-based, endangers our future and is more than irresponsible”Austrian climate minister, Leonore Gewessler
Luxembourg already announced they would support the Austrian push. Claude Turmes, Luxembourgish politician stated:
Although this is a process that could take years, Spain and Denmark have also shown interest in rebutting the decision. These countries would also consider joining the lawsuit. Germany was examining the option of a lawsuit as wall, but they decided not to follow.
Will more EU member states combat the polemic choice? Is this the move that will shape European climate policy in the upcoming years?