Activists against climate change have reacted angrily to Europe’s decision to label natural gas “sustainable.”

On Wednesday, the European Commission finally unveiled a plan to classify natural gas and nuclear power as “sustainable” energy sources. This idea has been in the works for some time.

New nuclear and gas projects might be sparked by the inclusion of energy sources on the EU’s green list. It’s possible that the proposals may be thwarted by European legislators, who are profoundly split on the topic across national and party lines, as well.

After more than a year of back-and-forth between member states, EU Financial Services Commissioner Mairead McGuinness had to deflect charges of EU “greenwashing” and confess that the idea was “imperfect.”

It was “widely split” across all of our institutions, she remarked, in response to the suggested list.

In spite of this, I think that we have reached a compromise between fundamentally divergent viewpoints,” she added, adding that natural gas was included solely as a “transitional” fuel source and would be subject to “tight” criteria.

“The ultimate goal is a world powered by renewable energy that is free of carbon emissions. To do so is beyond our capabilities at this time “she said on the subject.

There have been just four nations that have explicitly opposed the inclusion of both gas and nuclear, but most other member states, including heavyweights like Germany and France, have supported at least one of the two energy sources.”

Natural gas—a fossil fuel that contributes considerably to climate change—is at the center of a vigorous dispute about whether and for how long it should be used in the transition to renewable energy. However, despite the fact that natural gas normally emits less carbon dioxide than coal, some people believe that promoting new gas projects will just serve to extend the life of fossil fuels.

There are several reasons to oppose nuclear power, including concerns about safety and how to dispose of radioactive waste. In addition to being expensive, nuclear power facilities are sometimes plagued with delays.

Bas Eickhout, a Dutch Green MEP in the European Parliament, remarked that he had “never seen such a strategic error by the Commission” and that the strategy went against EU calls for the rest of the world to swiftly decarbonize their economic systems.

According to the EU’s key climate law, “we are eroding the whole legitimacy of our Green Deal,” he told CNN. “Furthermore, I don’t see that happening with gas. I don’t see how this is better.”

As a global climate leader, the European Union’s policies have had a significant impact on other nations.

“When we claim the world is following in our footsteps, we’re always happy to suggest that it will happen here as well. For the next ten years, Europe will allow the use of fossil fuels. If you think about it, what is the message you are sending to African nations that are also thinking about their energy future and will be locked in gas for longer?” ‘Says Eickhout,’

Experts in the fields of climate change and renewable energy have also voiced their disapproval of the decision.

Europe aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 55% from 1990 levels by 2030, and achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, in order to meet the EU’s environmental goals. In order to achieve net zero emissions, strategies such as planting trees or employing technology to “capture” pollutants must be used to decrease emissions to zero or close to it. Such technology has so far shown to be ineffective.

Decisions to transfer billions of euros from renewable energy sources to gas and nuclear plants were denounced by Greenpeace as a “attempted heist.”

“There has never been a more blatant attempt at greenwashing than this. As the EU professes to be a worldwide leader on climate and the environment, this smacks of hypocrisy “According to Ariadna Rodrigo, a Greenpeace EU sustainable finance campaigner.

A gift to two desperate businesses with significant political allies, the inclusion of gas and nuclear in the taxonomy, is becoming more difficult to justify.

The European Commission has proposed a limit on the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) a gas plant may release at 270 grams per kWh (kWh).

In order to be called sustainable, power plants, according to Tsvetelina Kuzmanova, a sustainable finance policy consultant at the climate think tank E3G, should not produce more than 100 grams of carbon dioxide per kWh. Additionally, it is expected that this bar will be lowered over time.

As proposed by Kuzmanova, new natural gas projects would have to offset or capture part of their emissions if they were to be built.

A “transitional” fuel, she said, should only be used for energy sources that have no actual alternatives. She also blasted the EU’s claim that gas was a “transitional” fuel.

“That isn’t the situation in the energy business when it comes to generating electricity, heat, cool, and power. Therefore, this principle is violated and might impede the much-needed investment in renewable technology, since we already have renewables “She went on to say that.

EU leaders are being asked to cut their dependence on gas as tensions between Russia and Ukraine threaten to interrupt their energy supply and maintain prices at record highs.

Think tank InfluenceMap, which studies the effect of big industry on climate policy, has produced a study showing the intense lobbying of oil and gas firms on the issue of gas’s future.

According to InfluenceMap’s Rebecca Vaughan, who analyses sustainable finance, “It seems the gas industry has been able to exercise its influence and undercut a science-based climate policy process in favour of policies that fit its short-term interests.”

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