By John Ikani
European Union lawmakers voted Wednesday to include natural gas and nuclear in the bloc’s list of climate-friendly investments.
The move to add gas and nuclear power plants to the EU “taxonomy” rulebook from 2023, will enable investors to label and market investments in them as green.
Gas is a fossil fuel that produces planet-warming emissions – but far less than coal, and some EU states see it as a temporary alternative in the shift away from dirtier coal.
Nuclear energy is free from CO2 emissions but produces radioactive waste. Nuclear backers such as France say it is vital to meet emissions-cutting goals, while opponents cite concerns about waste disposal.
The European Commission earlier this year made the proposal as part of its plans for building a climate-friendly future, dividing member countries and drawing outcry from environmentalists as “greenwashing.”
Notwithstanding, the proposal had the backing of the majority of the center-right European People’s Party, the European Parliament’s biggest lawmaker group.
A motion to block the proposal received 278 votes in favor and 328 against, while 33 lawmakers abstained.
Lawmakers of the centrist Renew Europe group were largely in favor of the proposal, while the Greens and Social Democrats mostly opposed it.
Unless 20 of the EU’s 27 member states oppose the proposal, it will be passed into law.
Slovakian prime minister Eduard Heger said the vote result was good for energy security and emissions-cutting targets.
“We’ll remain on the way to climate neutrality by 2050,” he said in a tweet.
Luxembourg and Austria, which both oppose nuclear power, have also warned against labeling gas as green, saying they would challenge the law in the EU’s top court.
“It is neither credible, ambitious nor knowledge-based, endangers our future and is more than irresponsible,” Austrian climate minister Leonore Gewessler said.