Commission to table green investment rules for gas and nuclear early next year

"We are going to have most likely a discussion tomorrow in college, which then will lead... to approval next year," EU environment commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius told a news conference on Monday, referring to the Commission's weekly "college" meeting. [Copyright: European Union]

The European Commission plans to finish next year its long-awaited proposal on whether to label gas and nuclear energy as climate-friendly investments under EU green finance rules, its environment policy chief said on Monday (20 December).

The European Union’s executive Commission is considering whether to include nuclear and natural gas in its “sustainable finance taxonomy”, a rulebook that will restrict which activities can be labelled as climate-friendly investments.

“We are going to have most likely a discussion tomorrow in college, which then will lead… to approval next year,” EU environment commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius told a news conference on Monday, referring to the Commission’s weekly “college” meeting.

Before the Commission publishes its proposal for the rules, it must share them with member states and its group of expert advisers from finance, industry and civil society groups.

The Commission is expected to start the consultation process before the end of the year, which would mean the proposal itself would not be published until January 2022.

“We will kick start the process when it comes to the proposal on taxonomy before the end of the year,” a European Commission spokesman told a regular briefing on Monday.

The Commission had planned to adopt the climate section of its taxonomy this year, but has struggled to overcome rifts among EU member states, who disagree on whether gas and nuclear help or harm attempts to avert disastrous climate change.

The EU summit on 16 December was unable to agree a text on energy issues, partly because of a dispute over the role of gas and nuclear in the taxonomy.

EU energy talks dissolve over carbon, green finance fights

Talks between European Union country leaders on energy policy ended with no agreement on Thursday (16 December), as states squabbled over how to respond to record-high carbon prices and upcoming green investment rules.

Once published, a majority of EU countries or the European Parliament could block the proposed rules but they won’t be able to amend them.

Brussels’ decision on gas and nuclear has faced intense lobbying from EU countries, who are split. Some countries say gas investments are needed to help them quit more-polluting coal and others warn labelling a fossil fuel as green would undermine the credibility of the rules and the EU’s leadership in tackling climate change.

Nuclear energy is similarly divisive. France, the Czech Republic, Poland and Bulgaria are among those saying the fuel’s low CO2 emissions make it vital in the transition to green energy. Germany, Luxembourg and Austria are among those opposed, citing concerns around radioactive waste.

The EU taxonomy will not ban investments in activities not labelled “green”. But by limiting the green label to those activities deemed truly climate-friendly, the EU aims to steer cash into low carbon projects and stop companies or investors from making unsubstantiated environmental claims.

Gas and nuclear: Fate of EU green taxonomy ‘now in the hands of von der Leyen’

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has taken charge of a soon-to-be-published list of sustainable investments amid controversy around the possible classification of fossil gas and nuclear energy as “green” or “transitional” activities under certain conditions, according to several sources familiar with the process.

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