EU gas and nuclear rules derided as 'biggest greenwash ever'

Experts and human rights activists have warned the European Commission that the integration of natural gas and nuclear energy into its sustainable economic system will result in a green economy, fragmentation of the financial markets and disrupting the climate goals of the bloc.

The hope for the future, which was released late on December 31st, will see other nuclear and nuclear financing included in the so-called EU taxonomy, under the category of “economic transformation activities”.

But Sébastien Godinot, WWF Europe economist and committee member Sustainable Finance Platform, warned Thursday (January 13) that the document contains “significant discrepancies” with the scientific requirements set out in EU economic policy.

Gas-fired power plants with construction permits issued before 2030 would be taxable if they emit 550kg of carbon dioxide per kilowatt of energy in 20 years and if they have entered a large-scale power plant, by other technical means.

However, according to University of Dublin professor Andreas Hoepner, this could generate more than 1.4bn tons of CO2 – more than the annual emissions of France, Poland, Czechia, Romania, Greece, Hungary, Bulgaria, Finland and Sweden combined.

He argued that “declaring gas as green is like announcing that French fries are a salad”.

“For me, this is the biggest greenwash of the year, probably the greenest ever,” he told EUobserver.

“This is not about science. [And] if this is based on science, there is a more open interpretation of what science is, “he added, arguing that the opinions of scholars were not considered old-fashioned.

Hoepner’s calculations show that taxonomy, as it stands, would not be in line with the “standard 55” target of reducing CO2 emissions by 55 percent by 2030. Instead, it only provides ‘a total of 38.5’.

Earlier this week, Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change, whose members represent $ 50 trillion. [€44 trillion] of commodities under management, he argued that the integration of gas into the EU taxonomy “would seriously undermine Europe’s role as a global leader in a sustainable economy”.

The success of France

Meanwhile, the integration of nuclear power into the EU taxonomy is seen as a victory for French President Emmanuel Macron in his decision to prepare for the upcoming elections.

France pressures integration of nuclear power into taxonomy along with gas by forming alliances with southern governments and eastern Europe protect the share of gas in the decarbonisation of EU resources.

However, Austria and Germany vehemently opposed the integration of nuclear power under the program – with Vienna threatening to oppose the committee if it continues.

“This is a political alliance,” Godinot said, arguing that France was relinquishing its climate control and making it difficult for the EU to achieve its 2030 and 2050 climate goals.

All taxonomy-related technologies rely on the principle of ‘do not damage too much’ in combination with self-defense, but experts are skeptical if nuclear power is at the bottom of this.

Although nuclear power does not produce greenhouse gases, managing radioactive waste is costly and costly.

Nuclear value is a benefit for managers and shareholders [but] risk to humans, “Hoepner said.

‘Investors’ Headaches’

In addition, experts warn that the integration of gas and nuclear material into the taxonomy could affect investors and divide the financial markets.

“This Taxonomy, if not radically changed, could divide financial markets between trustees or banks devoted to net-zero and others with bad faith who are willing to take advantage of this opportunity to continue ‘business as usual’,” Godinot said.

He added that the system would make “headaches for permanent investors”, as they would have to say that gas or nuclear money is considered “green” – not finding this reliable.

Preparations for taxonomy have begun dissatisfaction not only between professionals and permanent investors but also among green groups, as a youth-led organization FridaysForFuture, which staged demonstrations in front of Berlaymont in Brussels on Thursday to express their dissatisfaction with the idea.

“Nothing is going to change by shutting us down to electronic devices like gas and nuclear for the next few decades,” youth activist Chloe Mikolajczak told EUobserver.

“What we are seeing here is another demonstration of the greenwashing scandal and the failed promises that the council failed at a time when we need to focus on all our efforts to increase renewable energy in the spirit of fair justice and change,” he added.

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