Belgium, (Brussels Morning) After a first blow against the European Commission’s proposal to include nuclear and gas as part of its sustainable financing, the European Parliament voted today to include them under the EU taxonomy. The so-called taxonomy regulation is part of the Commission’s action plan on financing sustainable growth and boosting green investments.
An absolute majority of 353 MEPs was needed for the Parliament to veto the Commission’s proposal, but that figure wasn’t reached with 278 MEPs voting in favor of the resolution, 328 against, and 33 abstaining.
The vote was received with disappointment and frustration by the left in Parliament, large groups of activists gathering in Strasbourg — who were dressed out spelling “Betrayal” — and numerous climate NGOs. The campaign group Bankwatch accused the Commission of sabotaging the EU taxonomy saying that neither fossil gas nor nuclear are sustainable.
The European Environmental Bureau (EEB) didn’t save its criticism and blamed the slice of MEPs of voted in favor saying they had “become complicit in the Commission’s greenwashed plan” which the EEB deems as lacking legitimacy, common sense, and scientific support.
Yet, national interests from greater powers within the EU may have resisted, suggested former Greek Minister Yanis Varoufakis: “Paris agreed to greenwash the Russian gas on which German industry depends, and Berlin agreed to greenwash the French nuclear industry.”
Green MEP Thomas Waitz called the outcome a “catastrophic vote” denouncing it as “pure greenwashing”. The Greens in Parliament expressed disappointment but maintained their determination in fighting back saying that Austria and Luxembourg will appeal the decision before the EU Court of Justice.
“This is a disastrous signal for the rest of the world. The EU now recognizes fossil gas and nuclear as sustainable investments,” said MEP Bas Eickhout (Greens).
The Greens are not alone, with Greenpeace denouncing the EU’s “dirty politics” and announcing it will take legal action against the Commission over the inclusion of fossil gas and nuclear energy in the EU’s list of sustainable investments.
“The EU Commission’s shameful backroom dealing on behalf of the fossil fuel and nuclear industries won’t help them there. We’re inspired by the climate activists here in Strasbourg this week and are confident that the courts will strike down this politically motivated greenwashing as clearly in breach of EU law,” said Ariadna Rodrigo, Greenpeace EU sustainable finance campaigner.
Backing today’s decision was MEP Luis Garicano (Renew Europe) who argued that the “’ Immaculate Energy Transition’ does not exist” and a “sensible transition requires more than just renewables”. Garicano alluded to Germany, noting how the country recently had to recur to its closed coal plants in light of the energy crisis threatening the bloc — and the country.
“The reality is that as long as we do not have the viable large-scale storage technology renewables, it will not be enough,” said Garicano addressing the Parliament.
Moreover, Garicano described nuclear as a “useful energy” arguing that it does not emit any CO2. As for gas, the lawmaker compares it to coal, saying it’s much less pollutant, yet “not ideal”, but serves as a “reasonable, temporary alternative”.
Ahead of today’s vote, the Ukrainian energy ministry called on the Parliament to “positively consider” proposals to label gas and nuclear as green transition technologies under the EU’s sustainable finance taxonomy, EurActiv reported.
According to a letter signed by the Energy Minister of Ukraine, German Galushchenko, the post-war reconstruction of Ukraine “will require a predictable and conducive investment climate for all technologies” including nuclear and gas. Yushchenko went on to say both nuclear and “indigenous gas production” will remain “a strong backbone for ensuring the security of energy supply and sovereignty of Ukraine in next decade (up to 2030)”.