Written by 10:15 am EU Investment

EU green finance advisers walk out in protest

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  • Five civil society groups resign from Platform
  • Say European Commission ‘interfered politically’
  • Follows tussle over including gas, nuclear in ‘taxonomy’

LONDON, Sept 15 (Reuters) – A group of five non-profit civil society advisers helping the European Commission that crafted a list of climate-friendly activities have resigned and claimed the EU executive “interfered politically” in their work.

Part of the Platform on Sustainable Finance, the advisers were asked to help develop the rules that would define what the EU labelled as a green investment, but said their recommendations had been ignored on topics such as gas and nuclear power plants.

Resigning from the group are the European Consumer Organisation (BEUC), Birdlife Europe and Central Asia, Environmental Coalition on Standards (ECOS), Transport & Environment, and the WWF European Policy Office.

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“European governments and lobbies have heavily undermined the EU Taxonomy’s credibility, and the Commission has folded in front of them,” Sebastien Godinot, Senior Economist at WWF European Policy Office, said in a statement.

“We no longer believe this Commission will allow the Platform to work independently and with integrity so we cannot be part of this process any longer.”

In response, a European Commission spokesman said: “The European Commission recognises the work of the Platform on Sustainable Finance, and its members, in supporting the Commission to develop the EU’s Sustainable Finance Framework, and the EU Taxonomy in particular.”

“We take note that some members of the Platform have decided to step down from their position.”

The platform of advisers had recommended that gas investments should not be labelled green unless they emit less than 100 grams of carbon dioxide per kilowatt hour. Today’s best-in-class gas plants far exceed that emissions limit.

The Commission followed that recommendation in its original proposal, but later amended it, to include gas plants that emit less than 270g of CO2e/kWh, or have annual emissions below 550kg CO2e/kW over 20 years, in the final EU rules. read more

The final proposal followed a months-long debate and intense lobbying from companies and member states urging Brussels to label gas and nuclear as green. Brussels said it had added “strict conditions” to the final rules to ensure gas plants labelled as green investments complied with climate goals.

But the resigning NGOs said by not following the advisers’ original science-based advice, Brussels had ignored an EU law which specifies the taxonomy should follow “conclusive scientific evidence”.

The move comes as the EU looks to move forward with the next stage of the taxonomy, during which it will look to discuss issues including how to define sustainability in sectors including agriculture, fisheries and forestry.

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Reporting by Simon Jessop; Editing by Kim Coghill

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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