Ukrainians ask European Parliament to reject green label for gas and nuclear

Ukrainians ask European Parliament to reject green label for gas and nuclear

Ukrainian activists and politicians have urged the European Parliament to reject plans to grant the green label for nuclear and gas investments, saying it would be a “gift to Vladimir Putin”.

The inclusion of “gas and nuclear in the EU green taxonomy is a very clear gift to Vladimir Putin to fuel his war machine against the Ukrainians”said Svitlana Romanko, an environmental lawyer and campaign manager for the activist group Stand With Ukraine.

The proposal to include gas in the EU’s green taxonomy risks increasing the bloc’s reliance on Russian gas and could undermine efforts to reduce reliance on Russian fossil fuel imports.

“MEPs must veto the EU taxonomy delegated act because it violates the human rights of Ukrainians, who continue to suffer significant abuses in the context of the Russian-led war”she told EURACTIV.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian Ambassador to Germany Andrij Melnyk wrote an open letter to German lawmakers, calling on them to reject the proposal.

“If we include nuclear energy and gas in the green taxonomy, we put ourselves directly in Putin’s net”can we read in the letter.

“His energy companies are already rubbing their hands as billions would flow into Putin’s energy companies. This endangers Europe’s energy security and amounts to a slap in the face for Ukraine”continues Mr. Melnyk.

Green taxonomy debates

Earlier this year, the European Commission proposed to include nuclear energy and fossil gas in a list of green investments as part of the EU’s green taxonomy.

The proposal will be put to the vote of the European Parliament from 4 to 7 July. MEPs can reject the plan by an absolute majority, that is to say if more than half of its 705 members vote in favor.

Both in Ukraine and in the European Parliament, there are fears that the draft legislation will support the Kremlin war, which began after the proposal was tabled.

Since Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, the European Union has paid Russia more than 62 billion euros for its fossil fuels. Some European nuclear power plants, especially those in Central and Eastern Europe, are also heavily dependent on imports of nuclear fuel from Russia.

Climate concerns

The money sent by the EU to help Ukraine is not ” nothing “ compared to payments for Russian energy, said Ukrainian MP Inna Sovsun.

In an interview with EURACTIV, she criticized the EU executive’s proposal to include nuclear and gas in its list of green investments, both because of the climate impact of fossil gas and the support he could deliver in Moscow.

“As the world pledges to tackle climate change, we must face up to it and we must rely on scientific evidence, which of course recognizes that gas is cleaner than coal, but it is not is still not clean enough to continue investing in new gas explorations”said Ms. Sovsun.

Including gas and nuclear in the list of green investments is a “lie”, Svitlana Krakowska, head of the Ukrainian delegation to the IPCC, told EURACTIV.

“To say that gas and nuclear are sustainable is not acceptable, especially in this circumstance of war in Ukraine, where it is quite clear how gas and nuclear are really financing this war”she added.

Money for Putin’s war

The war in Ukraine is obviously an energy war, with the Russian military being supported by fossil fuel money, Romanko told EURACTIV.

A report by Greenpeace France found that Russia could earn an extra €4 billion a year with an increase in taxonomy-compliant fossil gas capacity, with the inclusion of nuclear power enabling Russian state-owned Rosatom strengthen business ties with European customers.

Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Finland all have Russian-made nuclear power plants and depend on Moscow for major supply and maintenance of these plants.

The report also revealed that Russian energy companies, such as Gazprom, Lukoil and Rosatom, have met with EU commissioners and senior officials, either directly or through affiliates and lobby groups, at least 18 time since the EU executive published its plan to establish the list of green investments in 2018.

“The Russians do a lot of lobbying because they want to make sure they can continue to exert political influence on European companies”Sovsun told EURACTIV, saying that the Kremlin has been working for years to put pressure on the European Union and its member states, gas being a key part of this.

“We see Putin and his cronies using gas as a geopolitical weapon and they want to continue to be able to do that”she continued. “We must recognize that this is a threat not only to our planet, but also to political stability and democratic development in Europe, but also globally. »

The rejection of the “green” label is in the hands of MEPs

Although several EU member states are opposed to the inclusion of fossil gas and nuclear in the taxonomy, it is unlikely that there will be enough of them to reject it.

This is why all eyes are on the European Parliament, which can block the proposal if more than half of its 705 members vote in favor. Lawmakers from the Environment and Economy Committees took a first step in that direction by approving an objection in early June.

The objection will be voted on at a plenary session of the European Parliament from July 4-7.

“I harbor cautious optimism, but I understand that this is not a done deal and that we must continue our efforts to raise awareness so that the Russians do not influence this decision”said Ms. Sovsun.

A vote against inclusion could be a “turning”both in history and for Ukraine “giving more hope to us Ukrainians that this war can be stopped by going against Putin’s wishes”said Ms. Romanko.

For her part, Ms Krakowska described the vote on the taxonomy as “test for Europe”. Addressing lawmakers, she said:“When you make a decision, [que vous adoptez] a document, remember that Ukrainians — and people around the world, because we are also talking about climate change here — are suffering and please don’t let us down”.

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