European Union lawmakers voted to allow natural gas and nuclear energy to be labeled as green investments, removing the last major barrier to potentially billions of euros of funding from environmental investors, Bloomberg reported Wednesday.
Parliament fell short of the 353 votes needed to reject the inclusion of gas and nuclear technology in the EU’s so-called Taxonomy, a list of economic activities deemed in line with the bloc’s transition to climate neutrality.
Barring an unlikely objection from member states, it now means the regulation will start at the beginning of next year.
The vote means that new gas plants will be able to tap into a fresh pool of money from environmental, social and governance investors, albeit for a limited time and only when those facilities are replacing coal-fired stations.
It will also serve as a boost to Europe’s struggling nuclear sector, which countries like France have touted as a low-carbon energy source crucial for the replacement of Russian fossil fuels.
Scientists, environmental activists and even a large part of the investment management industry had criticized gas and nuclear getting a green label on concerns that it could divert investment from renewables and tarnish what the EU had pitched as a “gold standard” for green finance.
Austria and Luxembourg have signaled that they plan to pursue a legal challenge to the inclusion of the two energy sources in the taxonomy, though it’s a process that could take years.
“It’s completely clear that both nuclear energy, and fossil gas have nothing to do with sustainability,” Leonore Gewessler, Austria’s energy minister, said Wednesday. “We will naturally challenge. We have already made preparations and Luxembourg has announced it will join us.”
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