EU taxonomy: Nuclear and gas remain threat as MEPs approve law

Posted on 18 June 2020

Legislators have made progress despite the health crisis. But nuclear and fossil fuel energy would discredit the taxonomy.
A new chapter in EU sustainable finance opened yesterday when the European Parliament voted in favour of the taxonomy regulation, meaning it is now final. The taxonomy is a groundbreaking classification system that will show if an economic activity is sustainable, thereby tackling the greenwashing of financial products. The Parliament’s plenary vote means the European Commission can now develop and finalise the criteria the taxonomy will use. 

Yet there is a potential major fly in the ointment: nuclear energy. The industry has been pushing to include nuclear in the ‘sustainable’ category. This is despite the fact that it was excluded by the Commission’s experts (the ‘Technical Expert Group’ or TEG) who drafted recommendations for the taxonomy criteria. In addition, gas lobbies are actively pressuring the Commission to weaken the gas criteria proposed by the TEG. WWF and nearly 100 NGOs have jointly called for nuclear and fossil fuels including gas to remain out of the taxonomy. It is essential that the EU Commission shuts the door on nuclear and fossil fuel energy for good or the credibility of the taxonomy will be at stake. 

Sébastien Godinot, WWF European Policy Office economist said:
“Despite the health and economic crises, legislators have made steady progress on the taxonomy, showing they recognise its critical importance. A science-based taxonomy can guide investments during our economic recovery and make EU finance truly sustainable. Including nuclear and fossil fuel energy, however, would discredit the taxonomy entirely: they must stay out.”

With this vote, the taxonomy regulation will now become legally enforceable. The European Commission will now set up a Platform on Sustainable Finance to develop the technical criteria for the four last environmental objectives of the taxonomy out of six - the first two of which, on climate, will be finalised this year. Importantly, the Commission is also mandated to review the taxonomy in 2021 to add a ‘unsustainable’ category - something WWF has been calling for urgently, to show which investments are harmful.

Sébastien Godinot
Economist, WWF European Policy Office
+32 489 46 13 14
Sarah Azau
Media Manager, WWF European Policy Office
+32 473 57 31 37 
Swedish nuclear power plant Ringhals on a foggy day
© Vattenfall