The EU’s green taxonomy is a system of classification that determines which investments are environmentally sustainable. After months of heated debate over whether to include gas and nuclear, MEPs will today deliver a verdict on the controversial act. In a vote on the matter yesterday, the EPP, the European Parliament’s largest political group, delivered its own verdict in a private online vote.
The group, which has long been split over the issue, delivered 107 yes votes from MEPs backing the proposal, while 31 were against it and seven abstained.
But today, the Socialists and Democrats (S&D) group, which has 145 members, will also meet to vote on the proposal and it is expected that most of its MEPs will object.
Renew, the third-largest group in European Parliament, is thought to be largely in favour of including gas and nuclear in the green classification system – but opposing voices from within the group are still expected.
The proposal, which has been spearheaded by Financial Services Commissioner Mairead McGuinness and Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, needs 353 votes to block the act and it is expected to come down to the wire.
While the EU is torn over whether to go through with the proposal, others are far clearer on their position.
Ukraine is furious that the EU is considering classing gas in the system as it would be a “very clear gift to Putin to feed his war machine against Ukrainians”.
Svitlana Romanko, an environmental lawyer and campaign leader at Stand With Ukraine, said: “MEPs have to veto the EU taxonomy delegated act because it violates the human rights of Ukrainians, which are still under huge abuse with the Russian war against Ukraine.”
Despite this, Germany, which gets a third of its gas from Russia, has demanded that natural gas be included in the taxonomy, meaning it can continue to send Moscow billions.
Berlin has attempted to justify its position by arguing that gas should be used as a transition fuel to help Europe move away from the dirtiest energy sources on its route to net zero.
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The plan could be rejected on the grounds that investments must contribute “substantially” to one of six environmental goals if it is to be considered green, and not threaten others.
Greta Thunberg, the popular young climate activist, tweeted yesterday:”Tomorrow the European Parliament will decide whether fossil gas and nuclear will be considered “sustainable” in the EU taxonomy.
“But no amount of lobbyism and greenwashing will ever make it “green”. We desperately need real renewable energy, not false solutions. “
Markus Ferber, an MEP from the CSU, held a similar position.
He said: “To put it bluntly: Investors who want to make green investments do not want to finance nuclear power of gas-fired plants. That is why such a taxonomy cannot work.
“So we have a standard that was not thought up according to scientific criteria and that is of no use to the market participants, and that is why I will reject it.”
But Markus Pieper, from the CDU, raised the alarm over rising energy prices
He said: “Taxonomy now means that energy suppliers who want to invest in new power plants are supported by private capital markets. If we don’t award this label now, it will be extremely expensive for energy suppliers to build new gas-fired power plants, including new pipelines.
“That then impacts energy prices – and that’s exactly what we can’t afford at the moment.”