Environment groups attack EU’s green label for gas, nuclear


BRUSSELS — A dozen environmental groups are taking legal action against the European Union executive to stop the inclusion of natural gas and nuclear power on the bloc’s list of sustainable activities.

European Union lawmakers voted in July to add natural gas and nuclear energy to the list, backing a European Commission proposal that has drawn criticism and accusations of greenwashing.

ClientEarth, WWF European Office, Transport & Environment (T&E) and the BUND announced on Monday that they had asked for an internal review of the decision to include gas. The European Commission has up to 22 weeks to respond, and the groups say they will take the case to the EU’s Court of Justice if the executive refuses to reconsider its move.

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They said that “gas is a potent fossil fuel that has threatened Europe’s energy security and led to sky-high energy prices across Europe”.

The groups argue that giving gas a sustainable label clashes with other EU laws and does not respect the EU’s pledges and commitments under the 2015 Paris Agreement to limit global warming.

Separately, eight Greenpeace organizations in Europe have taken action to include both fossil gas and nuclear energy in the so-called Delegated Act on Taxonomy. They too have submitted an internal review request to the Commission, arguing that their inclusion is in violation of the Taxonomy Regulation.

The European Commission’s eco-labelling scheme defines what counts as an investment in sustainable energy. The EU’s executive branch originally did not include gas and nuclear, and provoked divisions among member countries when it proposed their addition earlier this year.

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The issue of nuclear power has divided environmentalists, energy experts and governments for years, with some arguing that it is an important source of energy because it is emission-free and therefore “clean” to produce, while others believe the risks of nuclear response and infrastructure are too slow and slow expensive to build. LNG, clearly a fossil fuel, has come under fire in environmental circles.

Gas and nuclear power are now said to be involved under certain conditions, making it easier for private investors to inject money into both.

As the EU aims to achieve climate neutrality by 2050 and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030, the classification system is crucial for direct investments in sustainable energy, according to the Commission. It estimates that around €350 billion in investments per year will be required to meet the 2030 targets.

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“This fake green label is incompatible with EU environmental and climate laws. Gas is one of the main causes of climate and economic chaos, while there is still no solution to the nuclear radioactive waste problem and the risk of nuclear accidents is far too great to ignore,” said Ariadna Rodrigo, EU Sustainable Development Activist Greenpeace Finance.

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