Overstepping its powers and under huge pressure from lobbies, the European Commission proposed to label fossil gas and nuclear energy as sustainable investments earlier this year.
Despite its long-term environmental, economic and social impacts, this act was presented as secondary legislation, meaning that it could not be amended and that only an absolute majority of the European Parliament or the Council could reject it. This procedure should be reserved only for technical aspects and not for avoiding democratic scrutiny on political decisions of major significance.
Today, 278 MEPs from every political group voted to protect the credibility of the EU Taxonomy. Ignoring science and expert advice, 328 MEPs regrettably chose to let the greenwashed proposal pass. This tight vote reveals the lack of consensus around the proposal to consider gas and nuclear “green investments”. Beyond the environmental movement, opposition to this greenwashed plan has emerged within the EU institutions themselves, voiced by the European Investment Bank and several EU lawmakers, as well as by the investors and banks.
Billions of euros in ‘green’ financing now risk being diverted into polluting energy sources that are far from being harmless and temporary, at the expense of energy efficiency and renewables. This decision arrives at the worst geopolitical moment when Europe is trying to get out of its heavy reliance on energy imports. More investment in gas and uranium will only take us further away from energy independence.
Patrick ten Brink, Secretary-General of the EEB, says:
“Since its very formulation as secondary legislation, the Commission’s proposal to deem nuclear and gas as greens has lacked democratic legitimacy. By ignoring science and expert advice, the EU institutions have collectively failed to resist vested interests. Without any doubt, the credibility of the European green project is today weaker than yesterday. Civil society organisations see this political act as an unjustifiable breach of the EU Green Deal promises”
“Citizens, civil society as well as the scientific and investor communities are left astonished by this act of institutionalised greenwashing. The decision to label fossil gas and nuclear as sustainable investments represents a serious blow to the transparency and governance of the overall process, putting at risk the further development of the EU Sustainable Finance framework. The Commission’s green leadership is severely damaged, they must now demonstrate again with facts their commitment to the Green Deal”