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Thursday, March 30, 2023

EU lawmakers back gas, nuclear power as sustainable

by Samuel Petrequin and Raf Cassert | The Associated Press

BRUSSELS – EU lawmakers voted on Wednesday to add natural gas and nuclear to the list of sustainable activities, backing a proposal by the EU’s executive branch that has drawn sharp criticism from environmental groups and is now legal. Ready to trigger challenges.

As the EU seeks to set the best global standards in the fight against climate change, the decision could tarnish the bloc’s image and call into question the region’s commitment to reaching climate neutrality by 2050.

The European Commission proposed earlier this year as part of its plans to build a climate-friendly future, dividing member states and eliciting outcry from environmentalists, which they criticize as “greenwashing”.

EU legislators from the Environment and Economy committees last month objected to plans to set up Wednesday’s decisive vote in Strasbourg, France. But his proposal was rejected by MEPs in a vote of 328–278, with 33 MPs not participating. The result was declared amid thunderous applause.

An absolute majority of 353 was needed to veto the proposal. If the European Parliament and member states do not object to it by 11 July, the so-called Taxonomy Delegated Act will come into force and will come into force from the following year.

Greenpeace immediately said it would submit a formal request for internal review to the European Commission, and then take legal action in the European Court of Justice if the results were not conclusive.

“This is dirty politics and it is a humiliating consequence to label gas and nuclear as green and to flow more money into (Russian President Vladimir) Putin’s war chest,” said Greenpeace’s EU Sustainable Finance Ariadna Rodrigo. But now we will fight it in the courts.” Promoter.

European Parliament correspondent Bass Ekhout lamented “a dark day for the climate and energy transition”.

The European Commission’s green labeling system defines what qualifies as an investment in sustainable energy. Under certain conditions, gas and nuclear power will now be part of the mix, making it easier for private investors to invest in both.

With the EU aiming to reach climate neutrality by 2050 and cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030, the Commission says the classification system is critical to guiding investment in sustainable energy. It is estimated that meeting the 2030 goals will require an investment of about 350 billion euros per year.

Germany’s industrial lobby group BDI welcomed the vote, saying it had cleared the way for funding the transition from fossil fuels to clean energy.

“Gas is our bridge technology for the renewable age,” said its deputy head, Holger Losch.

The BDI called for more investment in gas infrastructure, including LNG terminals, to ensure adequate supply amid the current energy crisis, but added that new gas power plants should eventually be able to handle hydrogen.

The introduction of gas and nuclear into the equation has led to Russia’s war in Ukraine and even parliament splitting the 27 member states between political groups.

Claude Termes, Luxembourg’s energy minister, said he deeply regretted the failure of the European Parliament to block the commission’s plan, adding that his country – along with Austria – had legal plans to permanently stop the labeling of nuclear and gas. Will move forward with efforts.

Stefan Hebstreit, spokesman for German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, said that “the German government stands by its position and considers nuclear power to be unstable.”

“Nevertheless, the German government believes that classification is an important tool for achieving climate protection goals, as it is clear that natural gas is on our way to include CO neutrality and natural gas use. There is an important bridging technique for this. The Delegated Act takes this into account,” Hebsterreit said.

Protests that began on Tuesday continued outside the EU legislature on Wednesday as lawmakers debated the issue.

Environmentalists warned that the vote could set a precedent for lawmakers elsewhere to label polluting forms of energy as sustainable.

“We have now officially legalized greenwashing by law,” said Svetelina Kuzmanova of climate think tank E3G.

“The procedures and decisions are purely political, not scientific, only to benefit a few member states,” she said. “It will not stand a chance in court and will only create more uncertainty for financial markets and jeopardize the EU’s climate ambitions.”

Youth activist group Friday for the Future said the decision could result in billions of euros being pumped into gas infrastructure and nuclear power plants, diverting much-needed money from renewable alternatives.

One argument for rejecting the proposal is that it would boost sales of Russian gas at a time when it is attacking neighboring Ukraine, but the European Commission said it received a letter from the Ukrainian government supporting its stance. Is.

European Commissioner Mairead McGuinness was quoted from Tuesday’s letter from Ukraine’s Energy Minister: “I strongly believe that the inclusion of gas and nuclear in the classification is an important element of energy security in Europe, especially with a view to replacing Russian gas. “

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


World Nation News Desk
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