Decision for Russia: Why Labeling Investments in Gas to Be "Climate-Friendly"

Thursday, 7 July 2022 — , , Razom We Stand

The European Parliament backed a somewhat controversial decision to allow natural gas-fired power plants to market as sustainable and environmentally friendly investments in financial markets.

On July 6, the European Parliament failed to veto such a proposal of the European Commission. Only 278 MEPs from across the political spectrum voted against the European Commission's recommendations, withstanding lobbying from the fuel and nuclear industries. Another 33 abstained. An absolute majority of 353 was needed to veto the proposal.

This is quite dangerous, as the European Commission's plan to classify gas as a "sustainable" energy resource will fund dictators like Putin and their military aggression and destroy the EU's climate goals of decarbonization and reaching zero emissions.

Ukraine surprisingly supported these plans. Right before the voting, the Ukrainian Minister of Energy, Herman Halushchenko, sent a letter on that matter.

Who needs "green" gas?

In his letter, Herman Halushchenko asked the European Parliament not to object to the European Commission's proposal to include nuclear and natural gas-fired power in the EU investment taxonomy.

However, it is unclear how the general information about Ukraine's energy sector, given in Mr. Halushchenko's letter to the MEPs, can justify the claim that gas "greenwashing" will somehow help Ukraine.

To begin post-war reconstruction, Ukraine must first win the war against Russia, which uses gas as its key geopolitical weapon.

The false "green" label will serve as camouflage for it.

Second, in the future, Ukraine's energy security will not be able to rely on the expansion of gas infrastructure, which by its very nature is critically vulnerable to military attacks, such as missile strikes, artillery, or aerial bombardments.

The "green" label for gas will primarily promote the construction of gas power plants in the EU, not investments in Ukraine's "green energy."

Ukraine will need huge financial aid to implement the Clean Energy Package, which intends to steer energy companies towards cleaner, more sustainable operations for the benefit of European communities, not dictators and corporations.

The Russian Minister of Energy stated that this decision opens up "many opportunities" for Russia. According to The Guardian, Putin happily rubbed his hands after such a vote.

Now, the Minister of Energy of Ukraine is helping to consolidate this success. What guided his sudden political reverence and whether he coordinated his actions with the government remains unclear.

EU goals and values are under threat

The stated EU taxonomy aim initially was to "companies, investors and policymakers with appropriate definitions for which economic activities can be considered environmentally sustainable."

Environmental activists say that classifying natural gas as a sustainable energy source will prevent Europe from meeting its decarbonization and zero emissions targets.

So unless the European Commission changes its approach and includes gas, the EU will lose global leadership on climate change, turning the European Green Deal into a farce.

The struggle continues

Despite everything, the amendments to the taxonomy legislation regarding the recognition of gas and nuclear energy as green did not receive the support of the majority of deputies, even when joint economic and environmental committees voted.

This initiative was supported by only 328 votes, which is not a majority. Over 40% of MEPs disagreed when the European Commission added gas and nuclear to the green sources of the emerging taxonomy.

The European Commission cannot ignore their voices and the voices of thousands of Ukrainians who signed the "Razom We Stand" petition against the inclusion of gas in the "green" taxonomy.

Therefore, artificially giving a "green" label to natural gas is not a democratically accepted decision and violates the fundamental EU principles and values.

If necessary, the public and democratic forces will use the judicial branch to bring the EU leadership, which seems unaware of the possible consequences, to its senses.

A coalition of public organizations led by Greenpeace is also preparing for a lawsuit.

The world has changed since Russia invaded Ukraine in February. But proposals to change the EU taxonomy have not changed, despite Putin using gas and nuclear energy as his geopolitical weapons against Europe.

Publications in the "Expert opinion" section are not editorial articles and reflect exclusively the authors' point of view

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