The European Union has prompted a furious backlash over plans to label nuclear and gas as “green” investments, with Germany describing the proposal as “greenwashing” and Austria repeating its threat to sue the European Commission, according to CNBC.
The Commission, the EU’s executive arm was accused of trying to minimize scrutiny by presenting its long-delayed “sustainable finance taxonomy” rules to member states on New Year’s Eve.
The EU’s taxonomy list is a green classification system that helps investors to channel billions of euros into projects that are seen to be in line with the bloc’s bid to decarbonize its economy.
An official expert group now has until January 12 to provide a formal response to the EU’s draft proposal and the Commission hopes it can adopt a final text by the end of the month.
The EU’s proposal, according to a copy of a draft obtained by Politico, says that “it is necessary to recognise that the fossil gas and nuclear energy sectors can contribute to the decarbonisation of the Union’s economy.”
The Commission’s push to label nuclear and gas as green investments follows months of debate and political lobbying. Germany and other EU member states have argued gas could be used as a “bridge” fuel to help them transition away from investments in heavy-polluting alternatives, such as coal.
A group of ten EU countries led by France asked the European Commission to recognise nuclear power as a low-carbon energy source that should be part of the bloc’s decades-long transition towards climate neutrality and advocate for its inclusion in the EU’s taxonomy list. These countries are Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Finland, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia and Romania.
Germany, Austria and Luxembourg were all critical of this plan, however, citing concerns about cost and radioactive waste.