Parliament votes to give green labels to nuclear and gas

EU lawmakers Wednesday voted in favor of a European Commission proposal to allow nuclear and natural gas-fired power plants to be marketed as sustainable investments on financial markets.

Under the new rules — known as the taxonomy — new gas-fired plants built through 2030 will be recognized as a transitional energy source as long as they replace a coal- or fuel oil-fired plant, switch to a low-carbon gas like hydrogen by 2035 and stay under a maximum emissions cap over 20 years.

Existing nuclear plants will receive a green label if they pledge to switch to so-called “accident-tolerant fuels” beginning in 2025 and detail plans for final storage of radioactive waste in 2050.

328 MEPs supported the proposed investment labels, with 278 objections and 33 abstentions. Defeating the proposal would have required an absolute majority of 353 votes.

The Commission’s advisory Platform on Sustainable Finance voiced its opposition to the plans earlier this year. Environmental campaigners and a left-leaning coalition of MEPs have also sharply criticized the proposal to label gas and nuclear as green.

“I voted against the objection because the fears expressed about this delegated act aren’t justified,” Renew Europe lawmaker Pascal Canfin, who chairs the Parliament’s environment committee, said after the vote. “These energy sources won’t be put in the same category as renewables, and strict conditions are included.”

Greens MEP Marie Toussaint, who campaigned hard to defeat the file, blasted the outcome as “an odious greenwashing attempt with Macron as conductor” and “a failure for Europe and the climate.”