Anyone would have thought that the year 2021 could not get any worse. But, late last year, the European Commission had one last disappointing Christmas present for the planet. Just before the clock struck midnight on New Year’s Eve, they published the draft for the new law on sustainable investments (known as the EU taxonomy) and quietly tried to include gas and nuclear power on this list.
Perhaps they thought we wouldn’t notice? They were wrong.
Quickly, youth activists from Fridays For Future and Youth For Climate organised a protest in front of the European Commission building in Brussels. Sneaking dirty energy onto a list of sustainable investments is the worst kind of greenwashing. We told the EU Commission that we do not want their dirty present.
What is the EU taxonomy?
The European Taxonomy for Sustainable Activities is a list that defines which investments should be considered green and sustainable investments… and which ones not. There is a very simple set of rules to determine what can be on the EU taxonomy list:
Step 1. The activity must achieve one or more of the following benefits to be labelled as “green”:
- Climate change mitigation (stopping greenhouse gasses emissions that created and are exacerbating the climate crisis);
- Climate change adaptation (measures to help with the consequences of the climate emergency);
- Protection or restoration of biodiversity;
- Improvement of the circular economy;
- Pollution prevention and control;
- Sustainable management of water resources.
Step 2. It must not do significant harm.
Pretty clear, right? But the European Commission managed to ignore their own rules by adding both fossil gas and nuclear power to the “green” mix.
Why did the European Commission add fossil fuel to the EU taxonomy of sustainable activities?
It’s under pressure from national governments. European countries who clearly want to invest in new fossil gas power plants – such as Germany and Italy – agreed with the French President, Emmanuel Macron, to pressure the European Commission to include both fossil gas and nuclear energy in the taxonomy. With national elections coming up in France, Macron is under a lot of political pressure to promote investment in nuclear energy. And, of course, the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, agreed with their petty interests.
We will also assess how the gas, electricity and ETS markets function.— Ursula von der Leyen (@vonderleyen) October 22, 2021
We need more renewables. They are cheaper, carbon-free and homegrown.
We also need a stable source, nuclear, and during the transition, gas.
This is why we will come forward with our taxonomy proposal.
But why is fossil gas not sustainable?
Once more for the people in the back: Leave. Fossils. Fuels. In. The. Ground.
We’ve said it ‘til we’re blue in the face, but it looks like EU leaders still don’t want to listen to the facts. The planet’s resources are finite. They take millions of years to replenish. We can’t keep burning them just to make rich fossil fuel companies even richer. Not when renewable alternatives exist!
According to the European Commission itself, fossil gas consumption must be reduced by 32-37% by 2030. This is one of their own climate goals. It’s even listed in the EU’s “Fit For 2030” package of climate laws (also known as “FitFor55”). At the same time, they’re defining gas as a “transitional energy”, with the condition that permits for new gas plants are granted by the end of 2030. This is just one of many contradictions in the EU taxonomy.
Even the European Investment Bank (EIB) has announced that it will not put any more money into gas because it is simply not cost effective. Fossil gas is the second largest source of energy in Europe but we buy 90% of it from other countries, such as Russia. We pay so much for it that many European citizens are now suffering from energy poverty.
Climate targets will make investments in gas increasingly disadvantageous. Continuing to fund fossil fuels is an incredible waste of money. And, guess who’ll have to pay for it? The same generations that will have to face the consequences of the climate emergency that the EU is failing to fight.
Climate activists agree: the European Commission cannot get away with a misleading EU taxonomy
On January 13th, youth activists from all over Europe protested with two handcrafted fossil gas plant cooling towers provided by Greenpeace. They were painted green, exactly as the European Commission is doing to greenwash gas plants right now.
This can still be stopped. We have four months to convince at least 353 Members of the European Parliament to block this EU taxonomy.
Will you help us? Spread the word. Join a protest (or organise one!). Write to your MEPs. And don’t lose hope. We will not accept this scam. Not for our generation and not for the ones to come.