Accusation of “greenwashing”: environmental organizations sue EU taxonomy


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Status: 04/18/2023 01:58 am

Greenpeace, the BUND, the WWF and other environmentalists have complained to the European Court of Justice against the EU Commission. The reason is the classification of nuclear energy and natural gas as sustainable.

Several environmental organizations are taking the Europe-wide classification of natural gas and nuclear energy as “sustainable” to court. Greenpeace, BUND, WWF and others filed complaints against the EU Commission at the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg, the organizations said. They accuse the authority of Commission President Ursula von der Leyen of “greenwashing”. The environmental organizations had last September threatened with such a lawsuit.

Since the beginning of January, investments in natural gas or nuclear power plants in the EU can also be classified as climate-friendly. This caused discussions and criticism, as climate-damaging carbon dioxide is emitted when gas is burned and radioactive waste is produced when nuclear energy is used.

The lawsuit is directed against the so-called taxonomy. In it, the European Union lists areas in which investments can be made to combat climate change. Financial products can thus be advertised as “sustainable”, even if they envisage investments in gas or nuclear power plants.

“Nuclear and gas cannot be sustainable”

“The EU Commission must not disguise the problem as a solution. Nuclear and gas cannot be sustainable,” said Nina Treu, Managing Director of Greenpeace Germany. While Greenpeace wants to take action against the green label for nuclear energy and natural gas, other groups are specifically targeting the classification of gas. “With the decision to classify fossil natural gas as climate-friendly, the EU Commission has stepped on very thin ice, both factually and legally,” said BUND Chairman Olaf Bandt.

EU countries do not agree

Previously, the government of Austria against the sustainability seal sued for nuclear energy and gas. Luxembourg, Spain and Denmark also criticized the EU classification, while member states such as Poland and Bulgaria defended gas-fired power plants as an alternative to even more climate-damaging coal-fired power plants.

The Brussels classification is also seen as a compromise between German and French interests: France in particular is campaigning for nuclear energy at EU level; On the other hand, the federal government can live with the classification of natural gas because of its importance for German industry.

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