EU parliament prepares for cliff-edge vote on green investments

EU parliament prepares for cliff-edge vote on green investments

European lawmakers will decide on Wednesday whether fossil gas and nuclear power can be included in the EU’s list of sustainable activities, in a brink of abyss vote targeting climate change but heavily influenced by the war in Ukraine.

The 27-nation bloc’s Executive Commission wants nuclear power and natural gas in its green finance plans to build a climate-friendly future, believing it will hasten the phasing out of more polluting fuels like oil and coal.

But this has divided the 27 member countries and even political groups in parliament, while environmentalists say it amounts to “greenwashing”.

Protests that had started on Tuesday continued on Wednesday outside the EU legislature in Strasbourg, France, as lawmakers debated the issue. A vote was planned around noon (10:00 GMT). Two parliamentary committees opposed the measure last month, but lawmakers said Wednesday’s vote was too close.

If an absolute majority, or 353, of EU lawmakers vote against the Commission’s regulation on the so-called taxonomy, it will need to be withdrawn or amended.

The eco-labelling system of the European Commission, the executive arm of the EU, defines what is considered an investment in sustainable energy. Under certain conditions, gas and nuclear power could be part of the mix, making it easier for private investors to pump money into both.

One argument for rejecting the proposal is that it would boost Russian gas sales at a time when it is encroaching on neighboring Ukraine, but the commission said it received a letter from the Ukrainian government backing its position.

European Commissioner Mairead McGuinness quoted Ukraine’s energy minister’s letter on Tuesday: “I firmly believe that the inclusion of gas and nuclear energy in the taxonomy is an important element of energy security in Europe, especially with a view to replacing gas Russian”.

“I don’t think we should question this letter,” McGuinness said.

The commission believes that including nuclear power and gas as transitional energy sources to be phased out does not amount to a free pass, as conditions would still have to be met.

With the EU aiming to achieve climate neutrality by 2050 and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030, he says the rating system is crucial to direct investments towards sustainable energy. It estimates that some €350 billion of investment per year will be needed to meet the 2030 goals.

The 27-nation bloc is trying to wean itself off its dependence on Russian fossil fuels, with member countries already agreeing to ban 90% of Russian oil by the end of the year. Before the war in Ukraine, it depended on Russia for 25% of its oil and 40% of its natural gas.

Melissa Galbraith
Melissa Galbraith is the World News reporter for Globe Live Media. She covers all the major events happening around the World. From Europe to Americas, from Asia to Antarctica, Melissa covers it all. Never miss another Major World Event by bookmarking her author page right here.