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MEPs power down on gas and nuclear as sustainable energy sources

Parliament and Commission are at loggerheads over what counts as ‘green’


Pete Carvill

Two parliamentary committees this week struck down attempts by the European Commission to include gas and nuclear in its list of sustainable energy sources.

As was widely reported, the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee and the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee rejected the proposal on Tuesday, with 76 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) voting to object and 62 voting in favour.

A statement from the European Parliament said that MEPs recognise the role of nuclear and fossil gas in guaranteeing stable energy supply during the transition to a sustainable economy. But, they consider that the technical screening standards proposed by the Commission, in its delegated regulation, to support their inclusion do not respect the criteria for environmentally sustainable economic activities as set out in Article 3 of the Taxonomy Regulation.

The next step will be for the resolution to be voted on early next month during Parliament’s plenary session. The Parliament and Council have until 11 July 2022 to decide whether to veto the Commission’s proposal. If an absolute majority of MEPs (353) objects to the Commission’s proposal, the Commission will have to withdraw or amend it.

The Taxonomy regulation is part of the Commission’s action plan on financing sustainable growth and aims to boost green investments and prevent ‘greenwashing’.

The complementary Taxonomy Delegated Act was put forward by the Commission on 9 March 2022 and proposes the inclusion, under certain conditions, of specific nuclear and gas energy activities in the list of environmentally sustainable economic activities covered by the EU taxonomy. These moves were first alluded to back in December, when Expert Investor first reported on the subject.

February saw the EC endorse fossil fuels as a ‘transition’ fuel, another controversial move.

The new Delegated Act classifies certain fossil gas and nuclear energy activities as transitional activities contributing to climate change mitigation under Article 10(2) of the Taxonomy Regulation. The inclusion of certain gas and nuclear activities would be time-limited and dependent on specific conditions and transparency requirements.