Europe calls nuclear power and natural gas ‘green’ energy sources

The European Parliament voted, Wednesday, July 6, 2022, to label certain natural gas and nuclear energy projects as “green.”

The change will allow these projects to receive grants and cheap loans amounting to billions of euros. The decision aims to help the European Union (EU) no longer depend on fossil fuel imports from Russia, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The EU banned the majority of coal and oil from Russia, but continued to allow gas. However, Russia has reduced its gas flow to the EU, which supplied around 40% of all EU gas before the invasion began.

Europe is going through a very difficult period and at the same time going through an energy transition. For now, natural gas is cleaner than many options“said Julio Friedmann, a research fellow at Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy.

Billions of euros of “green” funding now risk being diverted to polluting energies that are far from trivial and temporary, to the detriment of energy efficiency and renewable energies“said the European Environmental Bureau, a pan-European environmental lobby group, in a statement.

The EU is committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030 and aims to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. Natural gas is touted as a “deck fuelto move the EU from more coal-based energy, which produces more carbon dioxide, to adopting more renewable energy sources. The EU decision also takes into account the short-term impact on people’s cost of living as energy prices soar following sanctions on Russia and its exports.

John Sterman, director of the Sloan Sustainability Initiative at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), called the decision “an extreme attempt at greenwash. “The EU plan includes stipulations that natural gas projects will only be considered green if they can convert to renewable sources by 2035, which Sterman warned means until then,”these plants would produce significant greenhouse gases and aggravate climate change.”

This vote is an important recognition of our pragmatic and realistic approach to helping many Member States on their path to transition to climate neutrality.“, the European Commission said in a statement shortly after the vote.

Vladimir Putin is rubbing his hands with joy today. Europe has just given it a huge gift by classifying gas and nuclear as sustainable. A gift that will funnel billions into his pockets and further increase his war chest“, Inna Sovsun, a Ukrainian MP, wrote in comments emailed to The New York Times.

For more information, see the European Parliament press release here.

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