European lawmakers voted Wednesday to move ahead with a plan to label some nuclear and natural gas power as “green” energy, a closely watched decision that could shape climate policy for years to come.
At issue is a European Union framework known as the “EU taxonomy” that is intended to guide investment toward projects that are in line with the bloc’s goal to be climate neutral by 2050.
In February, weeks before Russia’s attack on Ukraine, the EU’s executive arm presented a plan to classify some natural gas and nuclear power as “transitional” green investments in some circumstances, spurring a furious backlash.
Five months later, as Russia wields natural gas as a weapon and the global energy crisis intensifies, legislators at the European Parliament rejected an objection to the proposal in a 328-to-278 vote. An absolute majority of 353 was needed to veto the proposal. If the European Parliament and member countries don’t object to the proposal by July 11, it will enter into force and apply as of next year.
Greenpeace immediately said it will submit a formal request for internal review to the European Commission, and then take legal action at the European Court of Justice if the result isn’t conclusive.
The green labeling system from the European Commission defines what qualifies as an investment in sustainable energy. Under certain conditions, gas and nuclear energy will now be part of the mix, making it easier for private investors to inject money into both.
With the EU aiming to reach climate neutrality by 2050 and to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030, the commission says the classification system is crucial to direct investments into sustainable energy. It estimates that about 350 billion euros of investment per year will be needed to meet the 2030 targets.