Thursday, February 2, 2023
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European Parliament: investments in nuclear energy and natural gas 'sustainable'

Nuclear energy and natural gas can also be seen as green forms of energy in the European Union. Last week, the European Parliament approved a proposal from the European Commission for a list in which those forms of energy can henceforth be regarded as sustainable.

As a result, EU countries can continue to provide subsidies for investments in both energy forms, thereby achieving the Paris climate goals. Nuclear energy is CO2 neutral and natural gas emits less CO2.

A resolution had been raised in the European Parliament to reject that proposal, but that resolution did not pass – except for a few dozen votes. Because of that vote in the European Parliament, the way is now clear for more natural gas and nuclear energy in the EU. 

“It is a disastrous signal to investors and the rest of the world that the EU recognizes fossil gas as a sustainable investment from now on. Moreover, this plan predates the Russian invasion of Ukraine. It is at odds with the urgent order to become independent from Russian gas," said Dutch MEP Bas Eickhout (GroenLinks).

The disappointment is also great for Paul Tang, spokesperson for the Social Democrats (PvdA): “This vote is a painful and shameful setback for Europe as a leader in the fight against climate change. By embracing this European Commission plan, we institutionalize greenwashing on an unparalleled scale. As a result, Europe is falling from climate leader to climate laggard. 

While gas and nuclear power are now formally part of the taxonomy for sustainable investments, the governments of Luxembourg and Austria have already announced that they will go to the European Court to challenge the decision.

Eickhout, who chairs the Environment Committee of the European Parliament, thinks this case has a good chance, given the legal analyzes that show that the decision violates the original taxonomy law. This means that legal uncertainty will remain about this controversial decision for a long time to come.

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