EU Commission excludes gas and nuclear energy as sustainable investments for the time being

EU Commission excludes gas and nuclear energy as sustainable investments for the time being

Nuclear power plants like those in Grohnde in Lower Saxony are excluded from the EU Commission as sustainable investments for the time being.

© dpa
Nuclear power plants such as those in Grohnde in Lower Saxony are excluded from the EU Commission as sustainable investments for the time being.

The planned taxonomy for achieving the climate goals remains incomplete for the time being. This is also due to the fact that the use of gas and nuclear energy is highly controversial in the EU.

Already next Wednesday wants to EU commission your proposal for a comprehensive package for sustainable financing present. The taxonomy commissioner for financial services, financial stability and capital markets union, Mairead McGuinness, wants to create a reliable decision-making aid about guidelines and regulations for green investments. However, the project is very controversial within the member states and in the European Parliament.

According to the proposal, the EU Commission plans to remove both gas and nuclear energy from the planned “delegated act”. This emerges from an internal paper of the Commission, which is available to the Handelsblatt in Brussels. By December, the commission wants to finally clarify whether natural gas and nuclear energy can be considered sustainable investments.

The Brussels executive therefore wants to present a separate “delegated act” by the end of the year. However, this means that the taxonomy cannot be introduced at the beginning of next year as originally planned. “As long as the energy sector is largely excluded, the taxonomy will remain unfinished,” warned MEP Markus Ferber (CSU), EPP Group’s financial policy spokesman, on Friday.

“With the decision to exclude gas and nuclear energy from the taxonomy for the time being, it becomes very clear that the Commission has gambled away. The Commission wanted to whip the delegated act through the institutions at a slow pace. ”Now it is clear that such a controversial topic as taxonomy simply needs more preparation time and real discourse. He hoped the Commission would learn the lesson that when it comes to sustainable finance, “it is better not to stick with a hot needle”.

Energy policy dispute within the EU countries

The future handling of gas and nuclear energy is highly controversial in the EU. Many Eastern European member states advocate a liberal approach to natural gas. Countries like the Czech Republic, Slovakia, but also Hungary and Romania are fundamentally dependent on gas.

France, on the other hand, is pressing for nuclear energy to be included in the planned taxonomy for sustainability, given its virtually zero emissions. The technical rules are important for companies. In practice, for example, loans for sustainably managed companies would have to be backed with less equity than loans for companies that do not meet these criteria.

The Commission believes that the removal of gas and nuclear energy has the advantage that a separate discussion can now take place on the contribution made by natural gas and nuclear energy in order to achieve the EU’s climate targets. At their summit in December, the member countries explicitly recognized the role of natural gas as a transition technology.

The so-called taxonomy regulation was passed last July. The Commission has been asked to present technical criteria through “delegated acts” in order to further develop the catalog of criteria for sustainable investments.

In the planned “delegated legal act” on the EU taxonomy, it defines which investments in the energy sector will meet the climate policy requirements in the future. In the course of June or July, the catalog of criteria, whether an economic activity is ecological, should then pass through the EU Parliament and the Council, as insiders report.

Great influence from climate protectors

The Commission is under a lot of pressure. But apparently the influence of climate protectors is now so great that the strictest requirements are now being made in the taxonomy. European parliamentarians believe that the new proposal could not find a majority in the circle of heads of state and government as well as in the European Parliament.

The background to the taxonomy is the aim of the commission under its president Ursula von der Leyento achieve climate neutrality in the EU by 2050. For this it is of the utmost importance to define exactly when investments can be described as “green” and thus sustainable.

The planned taxonomy regulation serves to give the energy market in particular new rules for sustainability in the form of a “delegated legal act”. “The EU Taxonomy Regulation, the Regulation on the Disclosure of Sustainable Financing and the Benchmark Regulation form the basis for increasing transparency and providing investors with tools with which they can identify sustainable investment opportunities,” it says literally in the internal paper.

The conservative EPP, as the largest group in the European Parliament, advocates further promoting natural gas as a bridging technology and not discriminating against hydrogen compared to solar and wind energy through taxonomy. The members of the CDU / CSU group had already sent a corresponding letter to von der Leyen in March.

Gas-fired power plants would have to contribute to a secure and affordable electricity supply, at least for a transitional period. “While the corona crisis is overshadowing everything, parts of the EU Commission are taking advantage of the opportunity to enforce their climate policy ideology,” said EPP group energy expert Markus Pieper this week. “We will not get around hydrogen from natural gas and nuclear power. That must take the planned taxonomy into account, ”demands Pieper, who is also the parliamentary managing director of the CDU / CSU group.

More: MEPs see gas and hydrogen at a disadvantage.

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