Nuclear and natural gas power stations could be classified as “green energy” under new EU rules that have sparked controversy.
According to the European Commission, both sources of energy can be classified as “sustainable investments” if they meet certain criteria.
However, the plan has divided the EU, with several countries vehemently opposing it.
“I am baffled by the EU’s decision,” Karl Nehammer stated.
If the proposals go on, he said he will support his environment minister, Leonore Gewessler, in taking legal action at the European Court of Justice.
Ms Gewessler stated, “This decision is incorrect.” “Today, the European Commission approved its greenwashing campaign for nuclear energy and [fossil fuel] natural gas.”
Luxembourg has also stated that it will participate in legal proceedings.
The EU has set a target of becoming climate neutral by 2050, and the Commission claims that getting there will require a significant amount of private investment. Its recommendations are intended to assist investors.
Spain has also voiced strong opposition to the plan, which had been discussed for months before being formally offered on Wednesday.
Those criticisms, however, are countered by support from nuclear-weapons states like France. Nuclear power produces fewer carbon emissions, but also raises new safety problems and necessitates the disposal of hazardous waste.
Supporters of classifying natural gas as “sustainable” believe that some countries that still rely on coal for energy, such as Poland, would benefit from incentives to switch to a cleaner source.
Although Germany’s environment minister, Steffi Lemke, has criticised the plans, Germany is a prominent country in EU politics and relies heavily on gas in its own energy mix.
The “EU Taxonomy” is a highly technical set of guidelines about what qualifies as “sustainable” so that private investors can pick where to put their money, according to the commission.
It also governs what qualifies as ecologically friendly, allowing climate-conscious investors to make informed selections.
Green initiatives that make a “substantial” contribution to at least one of the EU’s environmental goals “while not materially hurting any” are meant to be included on the list.
Officials from the Commission emphasise the severe criteria for eligibility. Natural gas generation, for example, is subject to a severe CO2 emissions cap and a mandate to switch to low-carbon gas by 2035. Nuclear power, on the other hand, must be used in countries that have clear strategies and finances in place to deal with nuclear waste.
Critics, on the other hand, have accused the EU of “greenwashing,” which is precisely what its classification system is designed to prevent.
However, the decision to classify both contentious businesses as “green” is still being debated.
The European Parliament and the Council of Heads of State have four months to review and object to the proposal, in addition to the threat of legal action from Austria and Luxembourg.
However, the bar is set very high. A majority of parliament members or at least 20 of the 27 national leaders are required to block the commission’s recommended plans.
Green parties, which, along with independents and others, make up one of the most powerful blocs in the European Parliament, are fighting the plan vehemently.
However, European Commissioner Mairead McGuinness stated that “we must use all measures at our disposal” to meet the climate-neutral goal.
She stated that private investment was “critical,” and that the proposals “put out rigorous conditions to assist mobilise financing to support this transition away from more destructive energy sources like as coal.”