Advisers to slam EU plan to label gas, nuclear investments as green - draft

Steam rises from cooling towers of the Electricite de France (EDF) nuclear power plant in Belleville-sur-Loire, France October 12, 2021. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier/File Photo

BRUSSELS, Jan 21 (Reuters) - Experts advising the European Union on its green investment rules will warn Brussels not to go ahead with draft plans to label gas and nuclear energy as sustainable, according to a document seen by Reuters.

The advisers are due to give feedback on Friday to the European Commission on its draft plan for the EU's "sustainable finance taxonomy", a list of economic activities that can be labelled as green investments. read more

In the document, the experts said the rules proposed by the Commission would give green labels to investments that fail to significantly help fight climate change, and said it should scrap part of its proposals for gas plants.

The chair of the group of advisers declined to comment on the draft.

The Commission's proposals would grant gas plants a green label until 2030 if they meet criteria including an emissions limit of 270g of CO2 equivalent per kWh, or if their annual emissions average 550kg CO2e per kW or less over 20 years.

Natural gas produces roughly half the CO2 emissions of coal when burned in power plants, but is also associated with leaks of methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

The advisers said that only gas plants with emissions of 100g CO2e per kWh or lower should be deemed climate-friendly.

"This is the science-based approach," said the document, which could change before it is published.

Today's gas plants do not meet that limit, and would need to use carbon-capture technology to comply.

The EU's advisers have long recommended the 100g limit, which they say reflects the fast emissions cuts needed to avoid disastrous levels of global warming.

On nuclear power, the advisers said the rules proposed by the Commission "should not go forward" because they do not ensure nuclear plants would not significantly harm the environment, citing concerns about nuclear waste disposal.


The feedback sets the stage for the Commission to publish a final proposal for gas and nuclear rules. It is not obliged to alter its proposal in response to the advisers' opinions.

A majority of EU countries or the European Parliament could block the rules, but they cannot make changes to them.

The EU taxonomy aims to set a gold standard for green investments, helping climate-friendly projects to pull in private capital and stamping out "greenwashing" where investors and companies overstate their eco-credentials.

A first set of rules covering green investments in sectors including buildings and transport took effect this year. But the rules on gas and nuclear, now delayed by more than a year, are mired in intense political disagreement.

Spain, Denmark, Austria and Luxembourg on Thursday published a letter to the Commission urging it not to label gas and nuclear power as green.

"This draft sends a wrong signal to financial markets and seriously risks being rejected by investors," the letter said.

Other states, including France, are in favour of nuclear, while some eastern and central European countries say gas should be promoted to help them close more polluting coal plants.

Reporting by Kate Abnett, Simon Jessop Editing by John Chalmers and Tomasz Janowski

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