EU Commissioner rules out big changes to green finance proposal

·2 min read

BERLIN, Jan 26 (Reuters) - The European Commission will not make any fundamental revisions to proposals that classify nuclear power and gas as sustainable, Financial Markets Commissioner Mairead McGuinness said on Wednesday, despite objections from some European Union states.

The Commission included gas and nuclear investments in a draft of its "sustainable finance taxonomy" rules circulated on Dec. 31, as the bloc seeks to manage a shift to green energy and grapples with a gas supply crunch amid tensions with Russia.

"We may be able to tweak the proposal in one place or another to address some objections," McGuinness told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. "But we actually have limited room for manoeuvre."

German Economy Minister Robert Habeck, a member of the ecologist Greens, said on Tuesday that Berlin should vote against the plan to label nuclear power plants as a sustainable energy source unless the proposal was changed.

During months of heated debate on the proposals, Germany and other EU members said gas investments were needed to help them quit using more-polluting coal. Others said labelling a fossil fuel as green would undermine the credibility of the EU as it seeks to be a global leader in tackling climate change.

Nuclear energy is similarly divisive. France, the Czech Republic and Poland are among those saying nuclear power should have a big role in curbing global warming because it does not emit greenhouse gases. Austria, Germany, Luxembourg and others are opposed, citing concerns about radioactive waste.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz's three-way coalition government, consisting of the centre-left Social Democrats, the Greens and the business-friendly Free Democrats, is also split on the matter.

During coalition negotiations last year, the three parties were not able to agree on a joint wording regarding the EU's green investment rules and therefore did not mention the topic in their coalition deal presented in November.

McGuinness said nuclear power and gas were necessary as transitional technologies - "and as such they will be clearly labelled" - on the way to a "cleaner, better future".

(Writing by Paul Carrel; Editing by Edmund Blair)

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