The European Commission faces lawsuits over its decision to include gas and nuclear within the definition of “green” investments. 

The EU body faces two cases, one lodged by environmental activists Greenpeace and another by a coalition that includes nature charity World Wide Fund for Nature and environmental law firm Client Earth.

The cases aim to change the EU’s “taxonomy for environmentally sustainable economic activities”. This allows for gas and nuclear developments to receive “green” funding as “transitional” fuels, if they replace dirtier fuels.

As part of this, the Commission detailed conditions on use and a limit on production of emissions. In the Commission’s draft proposal, gas could only be classified as “sustainable investment” if “the same energy capacity cannot be generated with renewable sources.” Similarly, nuclear could only be used if ways of radioactive disposal could be determined in advance. 

However, Greenpeace argues that the EU executive acted unlawfully by deeming gas and nuclear as “bridge technologies”. Now, eight Greenpeace organisations have sued, demanding the court rules the inclusion of gas and nuclear as invalid. The groups say that the EU has violated its own climate laws, citing the emissions of gas power plants. They also allege the “green” taxonomy would risk diverting investments away from the renewables sector. 

Disagreement over green taxonomy involves activists and governments

Environmental campaigners have called out the Commission for classifying fuels as “green investments” a designation intended to channel private money into climate-friendly investments. 

While Spain, Denmark have since argued that it is not credible to label gas as climate friendly, countries like Poland and Bulgaria say they need gas investments to phase out more CO2-intensive coal plants. The proposed taxonomy has exposed deep rifts among member nations concerning the energy resources needed to meet the bloc’s net-zero by 2050 goal. 

Greenpeace’s side is being argued by Roda Verheyen, who won the case that ruled Germany’s climate protection laws as inadequate in 2021. Verheyen said “The European Commission has violated the very idea of taxonomy regulation. This is especially obvious as including nuclear activities does pose significant harm to the environment, which is expressly prohibited by the regulation,” reports the Guardian.