The war on Ukraine reveals that the European Union must “leave behind” fossil fuels. There is no turning back from the decision to cease sourcing oil and gas from Russia. To bridge the gap, turning to other gas producing states, most of which have questionable records on human rights and democracy, is an insufficient and dangerous temporary fix.
Building a sustainable and energy independent EU requires swiftly and drastically scaling up renewable energy development, while also reducing our energy consumption, notably through building renovation and energy efficiency. This is also the only way to achieve EU climate goals and finally respond to the climate emergency. However, the European Commission’s proposal to classify fossil gas as “sustainable” energy in the Taxonomy for Sustainable Activities would impair this essential transition.
On 7 July, MEPs will have a chance to vote down the Commission’s version of the taxonomy and ensure a green, secure and democratic future for Europe and the world.
Gas remains a highly emitting fuel that largely contributes to methane emissions worldwide. “Taxonomy-aligned” gas plants’ carbon intensity would be 16 to 38 times the carbon intensity of onshore wind energy and would even be well above the current average carbon intensity of electricity production in Europe. Building such plants is clearly incompatible with achieving carbon neutrality in the European energy sector by 2035, as required in the International Energy Agency (IEA) Net-Zero by 2050 pathway.
As many financial institutions and sustainable finance experts – including the EU’s own Platform on Sustainable Finance and the International Investor Group on Climate Change (IIGCC) – underlined, adding fossil gas to the list of “sustainable” activities would severely damage the credibility of the whole EU Taxonomy. In the words of the European Consumer Organization, BEUC, it would turn the Taxonomy into an institutional greenwashing tool.
Including gas in the Taxonomy would be a massive setback for Europe’s aim of being a climate leader, giving other countries and blocs an excuse to disregard climate science, develop new fossil fuel projects and delay their own switch to renewable energy.
MEPs must reject the Commission’s proposal, which bluntly disregards climate science and is solely the result of intense lobbying and political bargaining. They must vote against the Complementary Delegated Act that would sink the whole Taxonomy, impair the EU’s ability to respect the Paris Agreement, and make it harder to pursue peace.