Environmental groups sue EU for labelling fossil gas as ‘green’
Environment groups lodged a lawsuit against the European Commission on 18 April to challenge its definition of fossil gas as a “green” energy source. In addition, Greenpeace sued the EU executive separately for deciding that nuclear power was worthy of its sustainable investment label.
‘As absurd as it is illegal’
The legal actions at the European Court of Justice come a year after the EU established its so-called “taxonomy” of energy sources. This is a classification list of sources it deems sustainable, as the bloc seeks to shift to a carbon-neutral future.
The EU included nuclear power and fossil gas (so-called “natural gas”) in its list, which it considers as “transitional” sources worthy of benefiting from breaks for green financing.
WWF, ClientEarth, Transport&Environment, and the German NGO BUND, have launched the lawsuit over gas’s inclusion.
They said in a joint statement that burning fossil gas releases high levels of carbon. Moreover, they pointed out that its extraction and transport contribute to methane emissions. Methane is an incredibly potent greenhouse gas, much more powerful than CO2 at warming the atmosphere in the short term.
The groups called fossil gas’ inclusion in the EU taxonomy “as absurd as it is illegal”. The groups further argued that it goes against the Paris climate accord and the policies of public financial institutions such as the European Investment Bank:
BREAKING: Labelling fossil gas as ‘green’ is as absurd as it is unlawful. Today, we and @WWFEU, @bund_net and @transenv are taking the EU to court to stop the greenwashing. https://t.co/3LiX30XRwt pic.twitter.com/uQoVf9oTp0
— ClientEarth (@ClientEarth) April 18, 2023
‘False label’ for nuclear
Greenpeace argued in its lawsuit that the EU was applying a “false label” to nuclear power that could drain green financing from other sources.
Although nuclear power emits no carbon, Greenpeace holds that it represents a danger to the environment.
Concerns – and lawsuits – also abound in the UK over the threat its nuclear power plans pose to the environment. For instance, the campaign group Together Against Sizewell C is aiming to challenge the government’s development consent for the Sizewell C nuclear plant in Suffolk. This was the subject of a High Court hearing in March.
As the Canary has previously reported, Nature-focused groups have consistently raised concerns over the potential impact of the nuclear project on protected sites and species along the Suffolk coast.
Greenpeace’s view on nuclear is shared by some EU countries, notably Germany, Austria and Luxembourg, which have also gone to the Court of Justice of the European Union to challenge nuclear’s inclusion.
Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse
Featured image via Tim Evanson / Flickr, cropped to 700×403, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
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