In less than twenty-four hours the European Comission will approve the delegated act on the taxonomy that will establish the criteria by which an investment can be considered “green” and “sustainable”. The Brussels plans are committed to granting this label also to certain natural gas and nuclear power projects which has led some Member States –Austria, Holland, Sweden and Denmark– to return to the fray and ask in extremis for changes to a proposal that has generated much controversy and division and on which the Council and the European Parliament will have to decide.
“The lack of scientific evidence to include fossil gas in the taxonomy should lead the European Commission to reconsider the proposal & rdquor ;, maintain representatives of the four countries in a letter sent to the executive vice presidents Frans Timmermans Y Valdis Dombrovskis as well as the Commissioner for Financial Services, Mairead McGuinness. In the proposal sent at the end of January, the Community Executive proposes to classify as sustainable gas plants for electricity generation that emit less than 270 grams of CO2 per kilowatt hour until 2031 or less than 100 grams throughout their useful life.
An insufficient criterion for the Dutch climate and energy minister, Robe Jetten, the minister of climate, environment energy of Austria, Leonore Gewessler, its Swedish counterpart Dan Jorgensen and the danish energy minister Khashayar Farmanbar who have once again urged Brussels to exclude fossil gas projects from the taxonomy. “We ask the European Commission not to include any fossil gas activity as sustainable in the current taxonomy, as long as these activities are not subject to the same rules as other energy technologies, that is, the threshold of 100 grams of CO2e/kWh”.
Division of the Twenty Seven
The inclusion of gas is not the only element that has generated tensions and division among the Twenty-seven. The intention of Brussels is to consider “sustainable & rdquor; also investments in nuclear energy for plants with construction permits before 2045. An idea supported one hundred percent by countries such as France or Finland, staunch supporters of nuclear power, but rejected by Germany or Austria, which has threatened to resort to the Court of EU justice.
In the German case, however, they do support the use of natural gas as a transition route. The same happens with the Netherlands and nuclear energy, which it is willing to include in the taxonomy if certain conditions are respected and it is clarified how to prevent the water used to cool the reactors from harming the environment. Spain, for its part, is not in favor of considering gas or nuclear as sustainable, while for others such as Poland it is vital to leave coal behind.
Council and European Parliament review
Once the European Commission formally adopts the delegated act this Wednesday, the ball will pass into the hands of the Council and the European Parliament, who will have 4 months to examine the document approved by the Commission, although both institutions may request an additional 2 months to conclude your exam. After the scrutiny, Council and European Parliament shall have the right to reject the delegated act even if they can’t fix it.
This means that in practice it will be quite difficult to introduce change from now on. To block the Brussels plans, an inverse qualified majority of countries will be needed in the Council. That is, at least 72% of the Member States (at least 20 of the 27 Member States) representing 65% of the population oppose . In the case of Parliament, the institution that can put up the most battle, will need an absolute majority (353 MEPs) in plenary to prevent Brussels’ plans from becoming legislation. If none of the co-legislators opposes the act after the control period, the law will enter into force and will be applicable.