The European Parliament backed EU rules labeling investments in gas and nuclear power plants as climate-friendly on Wednesday, rejecting an attempt to block the law that has exposed deep divisions among countries over how to combat climate change.
The vote clears the way for the European Union proposal to become law, unless 20 of the bloc’s 27 member states decide to oppose it, which is considered highly unlikely.
The new rules will include gas and nuclear power plants in the EU’s “taxonomy” rulebook beginning in 2023, allowing investors to label and market green investments in them.
Out of the 639 lawmakers present, 328 voted against the motion to block the EU gas and nuclear proposals, while 278 voted in favor of the motion. There were 33 abstentions.
Opponents of the new rules failed to garner the 353 votes required for a majority in the 705-seat parliament.
This will come as a relief to the European Commission, which proposed the rules in February after more than a year of delay and intense lobbying from the government, the gas and nuclear industries, and others.
“There will be no greenwashing,” said EU finance chief Mairead McGuinness on Tuesday.
The EU taxonomy is a major regulation that intends to clean up the opaque area of sustainable investment by requiring financial goods that make eco-friendly claims to comply to stringent rules.
The debate over gas and nuclear regulations has divided EU countries, legislators, and investors. Brussels redrafted the rules several times, flip-flopping on whether to award a green label to gas plants. Its final proposal sparked heated debate about how to meet climate goals in the midst of a gas supply crisis with Russia.
Nuclear energy creates radioactive waste but emits no CO2. Gas emits greenhouse gases, although several EU countries regard it as a transition fuel in the move away from dirtier coal.
France, which relies on nuclear power, and Poland, which relies heavily on coal, were among countries that supported the new restrictions. more info
The governments of Austria and Luxembourg have vowed to challenge the EU if its plan becomes legislation, while Denmark and others have cautioned that labeling CO2-emitting gases as green would weaken the EU’s credibility in combating climate change.
Lawmakers also dispute on how the measure will affect financial markets, with some warning that denying “green” certification to gas and nuclear projects might result in increased capital costs.
Others argue that the taxonomy’s political significance exceeds the effect on investors since the legislation does not restrict investments in activities that do not have the green label.