Environmentalists Criticise EU's Green Label for Gas and Nuclear Power Plants

Published on: 19 September 2022
by KnowESG
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A dozen environmental groups have filed legal challenges against the European Union's executive branch to prevent natural gas and nuclear power generation from being included on the bloc's list of sustainable activities.

In July, European Union lawmakers decided to add natural gas and nuclear power to the list, supporting a plan from the European Commission that has drawn harsh criticism and charges of greenwashing.

ClientEarth, WWF's European Policy Office, Transport & Environment (T&E), and BUND requested an internal review of the decision to include gas. The European Commission has up to 22 weeks to respond, and the organisations say they will take the case to the European Court of Justice if the executive branch refuses to review its decision.

They stated, "gas is a potent fossil fuel that threatens European energy security and has led to sky-high energy prices across Europe.”

The organisations believe that labelling gas as sustainable violates other EU regulations and contradicts the EU's commitments and obligations under the 2015 Paris Agreement's target for reducing global warming.

Separately, eight Greenpeace organisations in Europe have taken action in response to the inclusion of both natural gas and nuclear energy in the so-called taxonomy delegated act. They, too, have requested an internal review from the Commission, claiming that their inclusion violates the taxonomy regulation.

The European Commission's green labelling scheme defines what constitutes a sustainable energy investment. When the EU's executive arm proposed to include gas and nuclear early this year, it sparked disagreements among member countries.

Nuclear power has long divided environmentalists, energy experts, and governments, with some arguing that it is an important source of energy because it produces no emissions and thus is "clean," while others argue that the risks of nuclear reactions are too great, and infrastructure is slow and expensive to build.

Gas and nuclear energy will now be included in the mix under specific conditions, making it easier for private investors to participate in both.

With the EU aiming for climate neutrality by 2050 and a 55% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, the commission says the classification system is critical for directing investments towards sustainable energy. It is estimated that approximately 350 billion euros of annual investment will be required to reach the 2030 targets.

Greenpeace EU sustainable finance campaigner Ariadna Rodrigo said:

"This fake green label is incompatible with EU environment and climate laws. Gas is a leading cause of climate and economic chaos, while there is still no solution to the problem of nuclear radioactive waste and the risk of nuclear accidents is far too significant to ignore."

Source: ABC News

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