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Gas and nuclear investments to get temporary green label?

Some argue it could help attract private finance in the push for net-zero

Europe is mulling labelling some gas and nuclear investments as ‘green’, according to reporting from Bloomberg.

Any such move, the service reported, would be temporary, citing information given to it by unnamed people with knowledge of the proposal.

Bloomberg reported: “The European Commission is weighing whether to classify as sustainable investment in gas plants that replace coal and emit no more than 270 grams of carbon dioxide equivalent per kilowatt-hour, according to two people with knowledge of the matter. The projects would have to be finalised by 2030, said the people, who asked not to be identified as the talks on the proposal are private.”

Should the proposal go ahead, the EC will reportedly reveal the rules ‘in the near future’.

Bloomberg added: “Giving a temporary green label to gas projects with emissions not exceeding 270 grams of CO2 equivalent could facilitate investments in cleaning up coal-based district heating systems in countries such as Poland. That’s an argument often raised by East European politicians. The inclusion of some nuclear energy projects in the taxonomy would help attract private finance in nations from France to the Czech Republic, which plan to rely on atomic power in their transition to net-zero emissions.”

News of these plans is not itself new. A few weeks ago, Euractiv reported that Austria would sue if the EU decided to include nuclear in its taxonomy on sustainable finance.

Reporting then, Euractiv wrote: “In October, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen announced that the EU executive would soon table proposals on gas and nuclear as part of the bloc’s sustainable finance taxonomy, a set of rules designed to provide investors with a common definition of what is green and what is not. A group of 12 EU countries, led by France and Finland, want nuclear energy included, arguing it is a low-carbon energy source and that radioactive waste can be handled safely if appropriate measures are taken. But Austria would be ready to challenge that decision in front of the European Court of Justice said Leonore Gewessler, the Austrian minister for climate protection and energy.”

A fortnight before that story, the same outlet reported that a paper outlining similar plans was floating around Brussels.

Euractiv, which claimed to have the paper, noted: “To qualify as a ‘sustainable’ investment, gas power plants or cogeneration facilities must not emit more than 100 grams of CO2 equivalent per kilowatt-hour, according to the draft paper.”

Obviously, things have changed if the permissible value of CO2 per kilowatt hour has jumped from 100 grams to 240 grams in that time. This may all come to nothing, however, since EU Observer reported in November that 60 investors, representing €9tn in assets, had warned against including gas and nuclear in the taxonomy rules.

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