EU Parliament says natural gas projects are ‘green’ or ‘sustainable’

The new rules, if passed by member states, could unlock billions of dollars in private investment and government subsidies for natural gas and nuclear energy projects.

The rules will go into effect in 2023 unless 20 of the union’s 27 member states waive them, which is unlikely. Most Member States, including heavyweights such as Germany and France, supported at least one of the two energy sources.

The European Commission has argued that natural gas — a fossil fuel made up mostly of methane that contributes greatly to the climate crisis — is playing a key role in the renewable energy transition, drawing the ire of climate change activists and some lawmakers. Natural gas usually emits less carbon dioxide than coalbut critics argue that more attention should be paid to the development of renewable energy sources, and that supporting new gas projects will only extend the life of fossil fuels.
Nuclear power, on the other hand, is green. in that it does not directly produce carbon dioxide emissions. Arguments against this usually revolve around safety, including how to store the radioactive waste it produces. Nuclear plants are also expensive, and projects are often delayed.

Bas Eickhout, a Dutch Greens MP who sits in the European Parliament, recently said he “never saw such a strategic mistake on the part of the Commission” and that natural gas is “sustainable” runs counter to the European Union’s demands for the rest of the world. . quickly decarbonize their economy.

“We are undermining all credibility in our Green Deal,” he told CNN earlier, referring to central EU climate legislation. “As for gas, I really don’t see it. I don’t see the added value.”

Although the proposal was made months before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, it gained momentum after the EU reacted to the war by banning Russian energy sources such as coal and oil, on which European countries were heavily dependent.

The EU has pledged to cut global warming emissions by 55% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels and become a zero-emissions economy by 2050. Net zero emissions is a drastic reduction in emissions, and the remaining emissions are offset, whether or not they are used by natural methods. for example, planting trees or technology to “capture” emissions. The effectiveness of this technology is currently limited.

But climate and energy advocates say Wednesday’s decision will instead impede Europe’s transition to a green economy.

“This will delay a much-needed real sustainable transition and increase our dependence on Russian fuel,” said Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg. tweet in response to vote. “The hypocrisy is conspicuous, but unfortunately not surprising.”

Environmental groups are expected to challenge the new rules in court. Groups such as Greenpeace and the World Wildlife Federation have already said they plan to sue the EU over the policy.

“Gas and nuclear energy are not environmentally friendly, and to call them as such is blatant “green laundering”. This harms the climate and future generations,” said Esther Asin, director of the WWF European office. “We have lost this battle, but we will not surrender. [We] will explore all potential options for further action to stop this greenwashing and protect the credibility of the entire EU taxonomy, and urges Member States and MEPs to do the same.”