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MEPs object to Commission’s plan to include gas and nuclear in the EU Taxonomy

Two of the European Parliament’s lead committees sent a clear message as they voted to scrap the European Commission’s sustainable investment taxonomy, which labels gas and nuclear as green.

In a joint meeting of the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee (ECON) and the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee (ENVI) on Tuesday, MEPs adopted an objection to the Commission’s proposal to include specific nuclear and gas energy activities in the list of environmentally sustainable economic activities covered by the EU Taxonomy, with 76 votes to 62 votes and 4 abstentions.

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 at the beginning of March 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.

The new Delegated Act classifies certain fossil gas and nuclear energy activities as transitional activities contributing to climate change mitigation. The inclusion of certain gas and nuclear activities would be time-limited and dependent on specific conditions and transparency requirements. However, MEPs rejected green labels for gas and nuclear energy in a tight vote on Tuesday.

“We need massive investment in the expansion of renewable energies, not the energies of the past,” said Bas Eickhout, Member of the European Parliament’s ENVI and ECON committees and European Parliament rapporteur for the taxonomy regulation.

“The Green Deal must not be used to finance energies that harm the environment and climate and pose unmanageable risks,” he underlined adding that on top of a climate crisis, a cost-of-living crisis we also have to face the war in Ukraine, which means that the EU urgently needs to become independent of Russian uranium and gas.

“Overturning the proposal would have been unthinkable just a few weeks ago,” added Luca Bonaccorsi, sustainable finance director at T&E. “This is a clear sign that the tide has turned and it isn’t impossible to imagine a complete rejection of the proposal”.

MEPs requested that any new or amended delegated acts should be subject to a public consultation and impact assessments, as they could have significant economic, environmental and social impacts.

The resolution is scheduled for a vote during Parliament’s plenary session on 4-7 July. The Parliament and the Council have until 11 July 2022 to decide whether to veto the Commission’s proposal. If an absolute majority of MEPs (353) object to the Commission’s proposal, the Commission will have to withdraw or amend it.

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