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Ireland South MEP Grace O Sullivan Welcomes Crucial Vote to Reject  Inclusion of Nuclear & Gas

Grace O'Sullivan sitting at her desk at the ENVI Committee.

The European Parliament ENVI and ECON Committees voted to reject the current Taxonomy proposal, following a report of the proposal being linked to Russian Lobbying in EU Institutions.

Ireland South MEP Grace O’Sullivan has expressed disappointment at the votes of Irish colleagues, whilst strongly welcoming the overall result of a vote by the European Parliament’s Committee on Economic & Monetary Affairs and Committee on the Environment, Public Health & Food Safety to reject the inclusion of gas and nuclear in the EU’s new system for labelling sustainable investments, known as the EU Taxonomy. A vote to reject the proposal was adopted by a majority of 76 MEPs, with  62 against, and 4 abstentions, in a Joint Committee Meeting this morning. 

Ms. O’Sullivan, as a member of the European Parliament’s Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, was one of four Irish MEPs to have a vote in today’s vote. She noted with disappointment the votes of some fellow Irish MEPs, including Fine Gael’s Frances Fitzgerald and Fianna Fáil’s Billy Kelleher, who voted in favour of the inclusion of gas and nuclear. 

O’Sullivan noted that labelling gas and nuclear investments as green would have been a poor outcome for the EU’s climate ambitions, diverting billions of euros of potential future investment away from truly green investments like renewable energy projects. The attempt to do so was also directly linked to the lobbying work of Russian gas and nuclear firms Gazprom, Lukoil and Rosatom, as revealed by a recent report by Greenpeace France, O’Sullivan noted. The report revealed that Russian energy companies have met EU Commissioners and senior officials either directly or through subsidiaries and lobby groups at least 18 times since the European Commission published its action plan on sustainable finance in March 2018. 

“This deal is bad for people, the planet, and for peace” noted O’Sullivan. “We know that we have to act fast if we want to meet our climate goals in this critical decade. Not only would the inclusion of gas and nuclear in the EU Taxonomy set back these goals, it would also ensure the delivery of billions to Russia’s gas and nuclear companies, funding Putin’s war in Ukraine” she stated. 

The Greenpeace report outlines how Russia could earn an extra €4 billion per year from a taxonomy-aligned expansion of gas capacity, totalling €32 billion by 2030, while the inclusion of nuclear energy in the taxonomy would allow Rosatom, a Russian state-owned nuclear power company with strong commercial links to the European nuclear industry, to secure a share of an estimated €500 billion of potential investment in new EU nuclear capacity. 

While today’s vote was indicative of the opposition to greenwashing in the European Parliament’s relevant committees, the final decision on whether  to include gas and nuclear in the EU Taxonomy will take place at the July plenary session of the Parliament in Strasbourg. Here, all 705 MEPs will vote on the proposal, with close margins expected. 

“Every vote on taxonomy in July will count. I hope my Irish colleagues in the Parliament will reflect on what is good for Ireland, and for Europe in the final vote next month. If we are serious about climate action then we must ensure the integrity of the European Green Deal against attempts to greenwash. This means rejecting the attempt to label gas and nuclear investments as green” O’Sullivan stated.

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