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European Commission presses ahead with ‘green’ label for gas, nuclear power

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European Union

The European Commission has confirmed that it is set to go ahead with plans to label gas and nuclear power as ‘green’ under new taxonomy rules, despite continuing backlash from several EU members. 

On New Year’s Eve, the European Union first unveiled its plans to label both gas and nuclear energy as ‘green’ energy sources, but the plans were not formally confirmed until Wednesday, January 2 following a short consultation. 

The European Commission was stuck between a rock and a hard place in its decision making, with views across the bloc on the issue incredibly divided. Countries such as France are heavily invested in nuclear energy, while the likes of Poland, which are still relying on coal power, argue that switching to natural gas would be comparatively greener. However, Germany, Austria and Spain are amongst those vehemently opposed to the plans. 

Karl Nehammer, the Chancellor of Austria, has been outraged by the European Commission’s plans. In a statement following the formal publishing of the proposals, Nehammer noted that “nuclear power is neither green nor sustainable,” vowing that the country would back pursuing legal action at the European Court of Justice if the plans go ahead. 

Austria will be joined by other nations, including Luxembourg, although it’s not clear what legal action against the plans could look like. Instead, it’s far more likely that the countries will lobby others to vote against the proposals. That’s not going to be easy, however, as there are two routes in which to block the plans, neither of which are smooth sailing. 

The first way to block the plans will be to have a majority of members in the EU parliament formally vote against the proposals. The second is to have 20 of the 27 national leaders come out against the new rules. Both routes are unlikely due to the split in opinion. 

The proposals are still subject to change, however. That’s because there will now be a four-month period in which countries can have a formal say on the plans. That means there’s still hope for those nations who want the ‘green’ taxonomy to be dedicated to cleaner energy sources – such as wind or solar power. 

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