EU Taxonomy: Commission’s expert group says no to EU’s greenwashing of fossil gas and nuclear energy

Posted on 24 January 2022

Classifying fossil gas or nuclear as a 'sustainable' investment would greenwash the EU taxonomy, according to the European Commission's group of green finance experts.
The report [1] by the expert group - known as the Platform on Sustainable Finance [2] - debunks three misconceptions that the Commission has been hammering to justify the inclusion of fossil gas and nuclear power: that the criteria are strict, that they are based on science, and that gas and nuclear power will help the green transition. 

The Platform found that the criteria proposed by the EU Commission are neither strict nor based on science. The criteria fail to meet a basic requirement of the Taxonomy: proof, not promises [3]. The Commission had proposed that nuclear power plants get a green label if operational facilities are available for the final storage of their highly radioactive waste by 2050. Yet no country has managed to build such facilities so far, despite seven decades of nuclear power exploitation.

The Commission also proposed that new fossil gas plants should be deemed green as soon as 2023 if they promised to shift to renewable gases by 2035. WWF applauds the Platform for refusing to endorse this greenwashing.

The Platform also found that new investments in fossil gas would hinder a transition that meets the EU’s 2030 climate goals and the Paris Agreement, while new nuclear plants will come too late to really contribute to the EU’s 2030 and 2050 climate targets.

Sebastien Godinot, Senior Economist of WWF European Policy Office and member of the Platform on Sustainable Finance, said:
“Attempts have been made to stifle the science, but today the Platform has given it a megaphone: fossil gas generates huge emissions, and nuclear power creates highly radioactive waste which we still don’t know how to handle. The Platform’s report is another warning bell that neither fossil gas nor nuclear power must enter the EU green taxonomy [4]. The Commission needs to listen to the science and abandon its proposal to greenwash gas and nuclear.”

A huge coalition of investors worth €50 trillion has already called on EU institutions to exclude gas from the EU Taxonomy [5] and citizens have been actively calling for a non-greenwashed Taxonomy since.


Notes:

1) The final report of the Platform on Sustainable Finance is available on this link
2) Composition of the Platform: “The Platform brings together world-leading sustainability experts across all stakeholder groups: Private stakeholders from financial, non-financial and business sectors, NGOs and civil society, academia and think tanks, experts in a personal capacity, as well as public and international institutions. In total, the Platform can draw on the expertise of 57 members and 11 observers” (Commission’s website).
3) The Platform’s report finds that the proposed criteria “are not consistent with the 
provisions of the Taxonomy Regulation, specifically Article 10.2 and the provisions of Article 19. 
The effect is that the draft CDA activities could not be considered sustainable within the meaning 
of the Taxonomy Regulation.”
Article 10.2 defines transitional activities, and Article 19 defines the requirements for setting the technical screening criteria. Article 19 specifies that the Taxonomy’s criteria must be based on ‘conclusive scientific evidence’ and the principle of ‘technological neutrality’ - in essence, that no activity should receive preferential treatment.
4) The TEG (Technical Expert Group on sustainable finance), the previous Commission’s expert group, published its final report in March 2020, which excluded fossil gas and nuclear energy from the EU taxonomy.
5) The Institutional Investor Group on Climate Change (IIGCC) published an open letter to EU institutions calling for gas to be excluded from the EU Taxonomy. IIGCC gathers 370+ members, representing €50 trillion assets under management.

 
Contact: 

Ines Abbas 
Communications Officer 
+32 488 99 27 65
iabbas@wwf.eu