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EU parliament classifies natural gas and nuclear energy as ‘sustainable’

EU parliament classifies natural gas and nuclear energy as ‘sustainable’

Ironically, the EU’s taxonomy on energy was originally meant to prevent ‘greenwashing’

Today, the European Parliament rejected a motion to oppose the inclusion of nuclear and natural gas as ‘sustainable’ energies in the Commission’s Taxonomy Delegated Act. The act defines different energy sources and their classifications to help guide lawmakers toward funding projects that can actually deliver on the bloc’s climate goals.

The document was first published back in February and natural gas and nuclear power were labelled as ‘transitional’ energy sources, that can help national energy producers to move towards renewables. One of the main goals of the taxonomy, on the other hand, as a press release by the EU parliament mentions, is to prevent ‘greenwashing’, however, with this new development, the document’s original intention may backfire.

Criticism of the decision

One of the main points of criticism against the decision points to the fact that including natural gas projects and nuclear power plants in the sustainability taxonomy will lead to them eating up funding for renewable energy.

At the same time, critics have pointed out the glaring vice of natural gas – it emits CO2. While gas emissions are much less than those of other fossil fuels, it is far from sustainable. In the case of nuclear, while nuclear plants do not emit carbon dioxide, environmental organisations regularly point to storing nuclear waste and the possibility of plant failure as a reason to avoid funding more of them.

Furthermore, the decision could not come at a more bizarre time, as many European countries are scrambling to fill up their gas storage facilities before the heating season, while gas deliveries from Russia have dropped by two-thirds amid calls for energy independence.

The inclusion can still be prevented, but it seems unlikely

When the Taxonomy was first published, the EU parliament had a period of four months to examine the document and form an opinion, after which MEPs would have a chance to vote on objections and amendments. The vote on objecting to the inclusion of gas and nuclear power went ahead on 6 July, however, it did not reach the absolute majority of 353 MEPs to pass.

The changes are set to come into force on 1 January 2023, however, the decision can still be prevented. This could happen only if at least 20 EU Member States, representing at least 65% of the total population of the EU, join forces by July 11th. Yet, that prospect seems very unlikely, as many countries in the bloc are looking forward to funding nuclear projects.

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