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LEAK: EU to table ‘climate taxonomy’, leaving gas and nuclear for later

LEAK: EU to table ‘climate taxonomy’, leaving gas and nuclear for later, By Frédéric Simon | with Reuters   16 Apr 21. The European Commission plans to delay a decision on whether to label nuclear and natural gas power plants as a sustainable investment under green finance rules due to be published next week, according to a leaked document seen by EURACTIV.

The EU executive is due to publish on 21 April the first section of its “sustainable finance taxonomy,” a long list of economic activities plus the specific rules they must meet to be labelled as green investments in the EU.

The rules, spelled out in a “Taxonomy Climate Delegated Act”, set out detailed green finance criteria for undisputed low-carbon technologies like renewables but leaves out gas and nuclear power for a separate decision to be take at a later stage by EU member states and the European Parliament.

Gas and nuclear have proven the most contentious issues in the debate on green finance, with countries in eastern and southern Europe threatening to veto an earlier draft because it did not label gas as “green” or “transition” investments.

France, meanwhile, said it would fight to make nuclear recognised as a green technology under the EU’s sustainable finance rules. “This is a real political fight,” said French economy minister Bruno Le Maire who stressed “the determination of France” to get a green investment label for nuclear power under the taxonomy.

Two-step approach

By putting forward a separate proposal for gas, nuclear and other “transition” activities later this year, the Commission is effectively throwing the hot potato to EU member states and the European Parliament, acting as co-legislators.

“The Commission intends to put forward a separate legislative proposal in Q4 2021, specifically covering how certain economic activities, primarily in the energy sector, contribute to decarbonisation,” says a draft Commission proposal obtained by EURACTIV.

According to the EU executive, “this will bring clarity to the debate” and allow legislators to follow up on the December summit where EU leaders acknowledged the role of natural gas as a “transition technology” in the fight against climate change.

The Commission last month suggested labelling some gas plants as green, under strict conditions, when they replace coal in power generation. But that proposal satisfied neither side, nor the EU’s own green finance advisers, who urged Brussels to resist political pressure to weaken the rules, saying their credibility is at stake.

From the Commission’s viewpoint, leaving the decision to the European Parliament and EU member states “will have several advantages”.

“On the one hand, it will allow a transparent debate by co-legislators on the contribution of natural gas and nuclear technologies to the decarbonisation objectives, respecting the right of Member States to determine their energy mix in an appropriate way. On the other hand, it will clarify to investors in a timely manner how such investments should be treated from the perspective of environmental considerations,” says the Commission’s draft document.

Among environmentalists, the two-step approach is seen as a pragmatic response to take the heat out of the debate and move forward with the less controversial aspects of the taxonomy.

“Postponing the discussion on fossil fuels is a political necessity at this stage, due to the fossil fuel lobbies’ enormous pressure on the Commission to greenwash their activities,” said Henry Eviston, WWF spokesman on sustainable finance.

“However, the EU must quickly clarify that fossil fuels are not green. Full stop. The Green Deal’s credibility is at stake here,” he said…………..

April 17, 2021 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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