Green groups blast Europe for labeling LNG, nuclear power ‘sustainable’
The European Parliament voted Wednesday to classify liquefied natural gas (LNG) and nuclear power as “sustainable” fuels, making them eligible for subsidies reserved for renewable energy.
The decision was quickly blasted by environmental groups and activists as setting back the cause of fighting climate change.
“Gas and nuclear are not green, and labeling them as such is blatant greenwashing – this harms the climate, and future generations,” Ester Asin, director at the World Wildlife Fund’s European Policy Office, said in a statement. “Today, fossil gas and nuclear lobbies hit the jackpot, allowing to divert billions of investments which are sorely needed to ensure the climate transition.”
Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg, meanwhile, tweeted that the move “will delay a desperately needed real sustainable transition and deepen our dependency on Russian fuels.”
“The hypocrisy is striking, but unfortunately not surprising,” she added.
While the expansion of the classification can still be rejected if 20 of the 27 European member states vote against it, this is seen as unlikely due to many of those nations’ past support of one or both forms of energy.
If the rule is not rejected it will take effect next year. The parliament voted 328-278 in favor of the policy, with 33 abstentions.
The proposal dates back to before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the resultant European energy crunch, but the parliament said in a statement that “[t]he inclusion of certain gas and nuclear activities is time-limited and dependent on specific conditions and transparency requirements.”
Although the statement pledges to take precautions against greenwashing, or misrepresenting environmental benefits, the vote still drew a backlash from European environmentalists, who argued both forms of energy do more harm than good when it comes to emissions.
Shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine earlier in 2022, Germany announced it would not activate the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline, which was set to deliver LNG from Russia to Germany. More recently, the EU announced embargos on Russian oil and coal, but has yet to impose a similar ban on gas imports.