Europe ‘too dependent’ on Russian gas says von der Leyen

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Some members of European Parliament are reportedly planning to take legal action against the Commission if the proposal to label these investments as climate-friendly is accepted next week. The EU’s green taxonomy is a system of classification that determines which investments are environmentally sustainable. Created in the wake of the European Green Deal in July 2020, it was originally set up to prevent “greenwashing” in certain investments.

While gas is considered a fossil fuel which produces emissions, those countries that want it in the green taxonomy argue it is needed as a transition fuel on the route to net zero.

Nuclear, while being cleaner than gas as its power plants do not produce direct carbon emissions, leaves behind radioactive wastes which pose a threat to human health for many years.

Although labelling both these energy sources as “green” could unlock billions of euros of private-sector investment, EU lawmaker Paul Tang has warned that some European Parliament members will attempt to sue.

Mr Tang, who is part of the EU Parliament’s negotiating team on the taxonomy, said: “The parliament will definitely try to go to court … We will argue that it goes against the primary legislation and we’re definitely going to fight for that.”

The plan is expected to 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.

But Mr Tang expects the vote will come down to the wire.

The motion must earn support from a majority in the assembly, which consists of 705 lawmakers, to be made a law.

The plan has long been a topic of furious debate, triggering a huge bust-up between EU member states.

Luxembourg has threatened to sue the commission over its plans to classify nuclear energy as “green”.

Back in February, Energy Minister Claude Turmes accused Commission President Von der Leyen of using underhand tactics to get the proposal through.

He also took aim at the President and her cabinet for “forcing through” the draft proposal in the final hours of December 31.

He said: “Imagine if this happened in other areas of policy — this would be the end of European democracy.

“I have been involved in European policy since 1999, I have never seen this, never seen this. This is unprecedented.”

Austria also vehemently opposes the plans to include nuclear in the EU’s green taxonomy and has also threatened legal action.

Denmark too argues that it is not right to label natural gas as “green” because it is a fossil fuel.

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But several countries, including Poland and Bulgaria, have lobbied for the taxonomy to encourage gas investments to help them phase out coal, the dirtiest fossil fuel.

Germany, which is heavily reliant on imported gas, a third of which comes from Russia, has also been pushing for gas to be considered a green investment.

France, which gets 70 percent of its electricity from nuclear, is leading a group of twelve countries that support the inclusion of this energy source as a part of a green taxonomy.

But labelling these “transitional energy” sources has sparked a huge delay in laying out the green taxonomy list, which could prompt huge investment into renewables.

According to POLITICO, some believe pandering to France and Germany’s domestic energy needs will “make a mockery” of the Commission’s aims to be a global leader on climate change.

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