Brussels – The European Commission has opened the door to funding for polluting gas, bioenergy and cars by classifying them as ‘sustainable’ in a draft rulebook on green investments, known as taxonomy.
Greenpeace EU green recovery spokesperson Ariadna Rodrigo said: “The green recovery EU leaders promised at the start of the pandemic is at risk of turning a muddy brown. Investing in gas, polluting cars and burning trees for energy won’t help Europe emerge stronger from the pandemic and will accelerate climate and ecological breakdown. Sustainable investments should support existing technologies with zero carbon emissions, which can contribute to a stable economic recovery, with resilient and future-proof jobs on a livable planet.”
For energy investments to be classified as sustainable, the Commission has said they should go to projects emitting under 100g of CO2/kWh, which rules out most fossil fuels. However, some gas plants could be counted as meeting this threshold, based on promises to capture and store most of their emissions. Carbon capture and storage is a technology which is unproven on a large scale and its deployment would allow the extraction and burning of fossil fuels to continue, despite a spiralling climate emergency. Recent studies have also shown that the gas sector is responsible for more emissions in Europe than coal, a significant proportion of which comes from leaks during extraction, transport and storage – so not impacted by even functional carbon capture technology.
The Commission fails to limit the use of biomass for energy to the burning of waste and residues, and continues to support the use of whole trees and crops. Burning wood from whole trees causes similar levels of greenhouse gas emissions to fossil fuels, but is counted as zero emissions by the EU. The taxonomy published today could prolong high emissions from bioenergy, while reducing the capacity of forests and other natural ecosystems to remove carbon from the atmosphere.
The Commission also labels cars emitting up to 50g of CO2/km as worthy of green funding until 2025. But investments in hybrid cars, which meet this threshold, would perpetuate the use of petrol and diesel, delaying emission reductions needed in the short term.
Across Europe, millions of people – particularly the young who will suffer the consequences of the climate and environmental crisis – have demanded credible climate action from governments and the EU, with over 1.3 million calling for a green recovery.
The Commission’s taxonomy draft will now be the subject of a public consultation. European governments and the European Parliament will have two months to formulate any objections to the text. If they do not, the text will automatically enter into force.
Ariadna Rodrigo – Greenpeace EU green recovery spokesperson: +32 (0)479 99 69 22, email@example.com
Greenpeace EU press desk: +32 (0)2 274 1911, firstname.lastname@example.org
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