On Wednesday, European lawmakers will decide whether to accept or reject proposals that have divided governments and investors.
The vote is the final hurdle in the European Union’s long-delayed decision to include the two energy sources in its “taxonomy” a rulebook that determines which investments can be marketed as sustainable in Europe.
The rules, which are intended to direct private capital toward truly green projects, aim to establish a European standard for sustainable investment and to eliminate greenwashing among the myriad so-called eco-friendly products on the market.
However, the debate over green investments has morphed into a broader political standoff over which fuels Europe should invest in to combat climate change and replace Russian gas.
On Tuesday, EU parliamentarians will discuss the gas and nuclear regulations before voting on Wednesday in what officials predict to be a close decision. To stop the idea, a majority of the European Parliament’s 705 legislators must vote against it.
According to Green legislator Bas Eickhout, the EU proposal would create artificial incentives to invest in nuclear energy and gas, a fossil fuel, at the expense of renewable energy, which is needed to rapidly reduce global warming emissions.
Christian Ehler, a European People’s Party lawmaker, said the taxonomy’s impact on future investment was unclear, but he said its strict limits on CO2 emissions and other criteria would ensure investments in gas plants met climate goals.
Rejection would be a setback for the European Commission, which has spent more than a year redrafting the rules despite intense lobbying from governments, the gas and nuclear industries, and others.
Gas and nuclear power plants, according to Brussels, must meet stringent criteria in order to receive a green label.
Critics, including the Commission’s advisers, have stated that gas plants would need to meet far stricter emissions limits than those proposed by the Commission in order to align with the drastic cuts required to avoid catastrophic climate change.
The Commission had included a lower emissions limit in an early 2020 proposal, but it was amended in response to criticism from some of the EU’s 27 member states.
On Monday, EU climate policy chief Frans Timmermans stated that if it had been his decision alone, he would have chosen a different taxonomy, but that the rules reflected the political realities within the bloc.