Originally published on Transport & Environment.
By Eoin Bannon
More than 90 environmental and consumer groups have today appealed to the European Parliament not to accept sustainable finance rules that would allow logging and the burning of trees to be counted as green investments. In a public letter, groups such as Transport & Environment (T&E), WWF, Greenpeace, and BEUC call on the 705 MEPs to suspend scrutiny of the EU Commission’s taxonomy of green investments until other crucial pieces of legislation on bioenergy, gas, nuclear energy, and agriculture are disclosed later this year.
Intense lobbying by Sweden and Finland in particular led to the deletion of science-based criteria for forestry and bioenergy, the 91 groups write. As a result, indiscriminate logging and the burning of trees for energy would be greenwashed by the Delegated Act on sustainable finance that MEPs have been asked to approve by December.
William Todts, executive director at T&E, said: “This taxonomy will direct green finance to good things like solar and wind power generation and electric cars and trucks. But without safeguards, it will also open the door to destructive forestry practices and highly emitting biomass. MEPs should not let this pass until they can see the other green laws in the pipeline.”
Civil society is demanding that “nothing is agreed until all is agreed”, fearing that the Commission is trying to dilute the bad news across a number of legal measures rather than putting them to MEPs all at once. This is the first of three Delegated Acts that will list which activities can be marketed to investors as green.
MEPs should withhold their approval until the Commission says whether fossil gas power plants should be labeled sustainable – a decision delayed until a later Delegated Act. The Parliament should also wait for Commission proposals to revise key pieces of legislation that the taxonomy is based on. In July, the Commission will propose amendments to the laws on renewable energy (RED) and land use to make the bloc “fit for a 55%” reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. Later in the year, new EU forest and biodiversity strategies will also be unveiled.
William Todts said: “The list is supposed to help combat climate change, but instead labels cargo ships burning bunker fuel and public buses running on fossil gas as green. A taxonomy that greenwashes the use of fossil gas will have no credibility in the eyes of consumers, civil society and investors. Parliament should suspend its approval until it can see the full picture.”
The Taxonomy Regulation determines which financial investments can be labeled environmentally sustainable. The actual list of environmentally sustainable activities is being drawn up by the Commission and is supposed to be based on recommendations by the expert group of NGOs, financial market companies and EU agencies. It must be approved by the European Parliament and governments before becoming law.
Read more: Letter: MEPs should block the EU’s ‘green’ investments list — for now
Download full report [PDF]: Letter: MEPs should block the EU’s “green” investments list – for now
Featured image by Ales Krivec on Unsplash