EU parliament designates gas and nuclear power as “green”

On Wednesday, the European Parliament backed the recognition of gas and nuclear power plants as climate-friendy. This was done over opposition from several countries within the bloc, who are pushing for a stricter definition of “green” energy.

The vote was very close: from 639 MEPs present, 328 opposed the motion that sought to block recognition of gas and nuclear powers as eco-friendly. Unless 20 of the 27 member states in the EU decide to oppose the results of the vote, which is very unlikely, it will become EU law. Only Luxembourg and Austria have been vocal in firmly opposing nuclear and gas energy and announced they will challenge it in court. Greenpeace vowed to mount a legal challenge.

The European Commission welcomed the result. It proposed the rules in February after more than a year’s delay and intense lobbying from governments and industries, with numerous changes introduced throughout the legislative process.

The new rules will add gas and nuclear power plants to the EU “taxonomy” rulebook from 2023, enabling investors to label market investments as green. The taxonomy clarifies what may be classified as sustainable investing. It does not prohibit investments in activities without the green label, but forces financial products which make eco-friendly claims to meet certain standards. Gas plants, for example, must switch to low-carbon gases (such as biogas, biomethane, or hydrogen) by 2035 and meet limits on emissions.