Gas power plants and nuclear energy should be labelled ‘green’ investments, the European Commission announced late on New Year’s Eve. Green group Transport & Environment said this last-minute attempt to bury the proposal undermines the EU’s entire sustainable finance framework, which is supposed to incentivise investment in Europe’s green transition. It called on MEPs and governments to reject the legislation.
Paul Bell, senior director of communications at T&E, said: “This Act goes against the goals set out in the EU’s Green Deal. With trillions of euros authorised to finance gas and bioenergy, we can say goodbye to the EU’s green finance agenda, and the Union’s sustainable future. The Parliament and Council must now act to stop this.”
The green finance rules determine which economic activities are labelled as environmentally sustainable in order to direct investments into those activities. Earlier in 2021, the Commission proposed the inclusion of fossil gas in the taxonomy. Faced with resistance, they postponed the decision to publish a second amendment to the rules at the end of the year.
The inclusion of gas goes against the advice of the technical expert group set up by the Commission, and contradicts the conclusions of a number of scientific studies. A new gas plant, for example, would be declared ‘green’ on the basis of a promise that over the course of 20 years, annual greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions average only 550kgCO2e per KW installed. It is a loophole that allows the installation of polluting gas today under the dubious promise that they will be used very little in the future.
The draft Act was published at 10pm on New Year’s Eve with a deadline for comments by the technical expert group set for January 12th. This is a clear attempt to minimise media reactions and proper scrutiny, says T&E. The European Parliament will have up to six months to scrutinise it, and ultimately accept or reject the bill.
T&E and a coalition of green NGOs, including WWF and Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe, have called on banks to publicly distance themselves from the Act, which puts them at risk of stranded carbon assets and public condemnation.
“Gas is a fossil fuel. The Parliament and Council must do all in their power to leave fossil fuels in the ground. The Act, buried by the Commission until the very last minute, won’t even undergo public consultation and is being sped through without any type of scrutiny. It is a disaster in merit and method,” Bell concluded.
Last year, T&E joined WWF, CAN Europe and others in a public protest in front of the European Parliament. The groups held a symbolic funeral for the EU Taxonomy.
Notes to editor:
T&E is a member of the EU’s sustainable finance expert group (PSF).