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EU to categorize investments in gas and nuclear power as green

A majority in the European Parliament has spurned attempts to put a stop to a contentious proposal which would classify gas and nuclear power investments as sustainable.

Photo: PATRICK HERTZOG/AFP / AFP

A majority in the European Parliament has spurned attempts to foil a contentious proposal from the European Commission.

The proposal will result in the classification of oil and nuclear power investments as sustainable during a transition period. According to the Commission, this is necessary to award countries enough time to start developing renewable energy.

However, critics argue that the proposal will pave the way for long-term investments in nuclear power and gas. This would run counter to the EU’s green ambitions, critics say.

MEP Niels Fuglsang of S&D calls the vote ”a huge setback for the climate.”

”Today’s vote means that a significant amount of money that the EU has earmarked for green investments in member nations’ recovery plans risks ending up in long-term investments in nuclear power and fossil gas. In the worst-case scenario, it would tie us to natural gas for many years beyond 2030,” says Fuglsang:

”This is completely beyond the pale, and it bodes ill for future of the climate fight,” says Fuglsang.

He notes that the legislation could entail that pension funds are allowed to advertise nuclear power and gas investments as ”green” to customers.

”That’s greenwashing through and through.”

A similar view is expressed by MEP Nikolaj Willumsen of GUE/NGL.

”Unfortunately, a majority in the European Parliament has chosen to pay more attention to short-sighted and narrow interests of major energy companies than science and climate considerations. That’s truly tragic,” says Villumsen.

The opposition against the European Commission’s proposal has come from left-leaning parts of the European Parliament, while right-leaning EU parties have supported the proposal.

MEP Linea Søgaard-Lidell of Renew also voted no to the proposal, however.

”I’m simply just disappointed in the result of today’s vote and that we didn’t manage to foil the Commission’s hopeless decision,” she says.

On the other hand, the European Commission argues that the proposal is necessary to help more EU nations transition to green energy..

Ahead of the vote, European Commissioner of Financial Services Mairead McGuinness admitted that the proposal isn’t ideal:

”I’ve never called gas ’green energy’. It’s a fossil fuel. And I can say that in a myriad of languages if need be,” she remarked prior to the vote.

However, she also underlined that the proposal is crucial and ”pragmatic” given the current energy shortages.

”Some member nations moving away from dirty fossil fuels need gas in the transition phase. Nuclear power is also part of our energy mix during the transition phase,” said McGuinness.

Potential greenwashing

The approval from the EU Parliament has crippled the EU’s credibility, argues NGO the European Environmental Bureau (EEB).

The EEB points to a potential ”greenwashing,” according to a press release.

”Without any doubt, the credibility of the European green project is today weaker than yesterday. Civil society organisations see this political act as an unjustifiable breach of the EU Green Deal promises,” says Patrick ten Brink, secretary general of the EEB, in the statement.

EU moves closer to labeling natural gas as sustainable

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