The European Parliament will allow nuclear and gas investments to be considered climate-friendly, a move branded “catastrophic” by climate campaigners.
“The EU Parliament has adopted the Commission’s proposal, thus backing the fossil lobby and autocrats like [Vladimir] Putin,” Friday’s for Future Germany said following the decision. “The taxonomy decision is catastrophic.”
The European Parliament did not object on Wednesday to the European Commission’s proposal to label “specific” nuclear and gas investments as “environmentally sustainable.”
“The Commission believes there is a role for private investment in gas and nuclear activities in the green transition,” the European Parliament said announcing the decision, adding that the inclusion of fossil fuel gas and nuclear activities to this list of green investments was “time -limited” and dependent on “specific conditions.”
At the end, 278 MEPs voted in favor of the resolution, 328 against and 33 abstained. An absolute majority of 353 MEPs was needed for the parliament to veto the Commission’s proposal.
If neither the parliament, nor European Council object to the proposal by 11 July, the act will enter into force and apply as of 1 January 2023.
Debate around whether gas and nuclear could be labeled as green energy has been fierce and divided European countries some of whom heavily rely either on gas or nuclear power to fuel their countries. Brussels redrafted the rules multiple times, flip-flopping over whether to grant gas plants a green tag, according to Reuters.
Greenpeace announced on Wednesday that it will take legal action against the European Commission.
“It’s dirty politics and it’s an outrageous outcome to label gas and nuclear as green and keep more money flowing to Putin’s war chest, but now we will fight this in the courts,” said Greenpeace EU sustainable finance campaigner, Ariadna Rodrigo.
“We’re 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.”
Greta Thunberg said the decision to label fossil gas as “green” energy, would delay a “desperately needed real sustainable transition and deepen our dependency on Russian fuels.”
“The hypocrisy is striking, but unfortunately not surprising,” she said in a Tweet.
Gas is a fossil fuel that produces planet-heating greenhouse gas emissions. However, the emissions it produces are smaller than coal and countries have promoted it as a key to transitioning off other fossil fuels and into renewables.
Nuclear energy does not emit carbon dioxide emissions but it does produce nuclear waste.
France has argued that nuclear energy – which provides the country with about 70 per cent of its electricity – is crucial to cutting greenhouse gas emissions and tackling global heating, but critics are concerned about the disposal of nuclear waste.
The Independent has contacted the European Commission for comment.