EU lawmaker committees object to ‘green’ label for gas investments

The Doel Nuclear Power Station at the Dutch-Belgian border in Berendrecht, Belgium, pictured on June 10, 2022. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

BRUSSELS (REUTERS) - Two European Parliament committees on Tuesday (June 14) backed an attempt to stop the EU labelling gas and nuclear energy as climate-friendly investments, setting the stage for a full parliament vote that could reject the rules next month. 

The committees backed a resolution which attempts to block a plan by the European Commission to include gas and nuclear in the European Union’s taxonomy – a list of “sustainable” investments designed to steer private capital towards those that support climate change targets. 

EU countries and lawmakers are split over whether the fuels are green enough to earn that label – and could yet reject the EU proposal. 

The full European Parliament will vote on the resolution in early July. If it gets support from at least half of its 705 lawmakers, it would block the gas and nuclear rules. 

The text, backed by Parliament’s environment and economic committees on Tuesday, said gas and nuclear cannot be considered sustainable based on existing EU laws, and labelling them as green would confuse investors.

It passed with 76 votes in favour and 62 against.

“We need massive investment in the expansion of renewable energies, not the energies of the past,” said Green lawmaker Bas Eickhout, one of those who submitted the resolution. 

The Commission says gas and nuclear plants must meet “strict conditions” to earn the green label, including emissions limits that could include gas plants with relatively-high CO2 emissions today if they plan to switch to low-carbon gas or reduce their running hours in later years. 

The rules reflect disagreements among countries over which energy sources to use to meet climate goals. 

Nuclear opponents such as Germany cite concerns over waste disposal, while pro-nuclear states including France say the CO2-free energy source is crucial to meet climate targets.  

Meanwhile, the invasion of Ukraine by top gas supplier Russia has heightened divisions about reliance on gas. Eastern European countries have said gas investments are needed to replace more-polluting coal, while others say labelling CO2-emitting gas as sustainable undermines efforts to curb climate change. 

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