EU Parliament complicit in greenwashing

Today, the European Parliament  discredited a formerly powerful tool for climate action. Against the opposition of environmental and financial experts, against the demands of the climate protection movement and entire member states, a majority of MEPs decided to support greenwashing. 

These Members of the European Parliament backed a complementary delegated act from the European Commission that lays down the sustainability criteria for the EU Taxonomy of sustainable investment and gives gas and nuclear energy a green categorization. 

This represents a de facto suspension of the European Green Deal and undermines many of the sustainability and environmental commitments that the EU has been reaffirming over recent years.

The decision could mean that public and private resources and funds, which should finance the green transition, will be used to consolidate the patching up of an outdated model. Qualifying investments in nuclear energy or in fossil fuels such as gas as “sustainable” discredits this system. The Commission created a tool to enable greenwashing for investors and companies, the Parliament validated it.

MEP Silvia Modig (Left alliance, Finland), Member of the European Parliament’s ENVI committee: “From now on,  the Commission will have to stop talking about the EU being a leader in global climate action. How on earth can we demand that others phase out fossil fuels when we ourselves decide that natural gas is a green investment?”

The Left denounces the Commission’s decision to follow the economic and hegemonic interests of the big energy oligopolies and of some EU states, which are hindering any substantive change, rather than adhering to science. We also consider this decision by the Commission to be undemocratic. An unelected minority is deciding the future of millions of Europeans without any democratic legitimacy on a central issue for the future of people and the planet.

MEP Dimitrios Papadimoulis (Syriza, Greece), Member of the European Parliament’s ECON committee: “The result of the vote is extremely disappointing. The lobby of those who want to greenwash nuclear energy and fossil fuels overturned the majority in the ECON and ENVI committees. It is a very negative development for the green transition and energy sustainability in the EU.”

The Commission is not doing what it is delegated to do – the EU Taxonomy is legally obliged to be based on science and not on political interests.It has not been sufficiently transparent throughout the process, withdrawing nuclear energy and gas from the original proposal and including it at the last minute with an extremely short period of public consultation. There was no public debate about this decision.

“The taxonomy was one of the greatest achievements of this parliament. Bending science to market demands will now damage the taxonomy by blowing up its scientific foundation. The earth does not accept political compromises”, MEP Petros Kokkalis (Syriza, Greece), Member of the European Parliament’s ENVI committee, said.

Left MEPs were not the only ones sounding the alarm. The EU Platform on Sustainable Finance, an expert group that provided input to the Commission have voiced their total opposition to giving nuclear energy and gas a green categorization. The 57-member body said it had “doubts about how the draft criteria would work in practice and many are deeply concerned about the environmental impacts that may result.”

Several member states have declared their opposition to the new Taxonomy. Moreover, the commitments of the Commission, the European Parliament, and the international agreements to which the EU is a party go in the opposite direction to the new position defended by the EU.

Progressive political forces, trade unions, environmental organisations, and civil society made a huge effort during these last months to stop this disaster in the making. 

The objection was defeated by a narrow vote of 328 against, 278 in favour, 33 abstentions.

The Left will legally challenge the decision, together with groups fighting for a just ecological transition. 


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