Activists from Greenpeace Belgium install a giant ‘taxonosaurus’ dinosaur outside the headquarters of the European Commission and European Council in Brussels in December 2021, in protest against the possible inclusion of fossil gas and nuclear energy in the EU’s ‘taxonomy’, or list of guidelines for sustainable investments.

Brussels – The European Commission intends to label certain fossil gas and nuclear activities as “sustainable” investments in the EU’s taxonomy of green economic activities, according to a draft communication released late on 31 December 2021.  

According to the Commission document, nuclear projects with a construction permit issued by 2045 would be eligible for private investments, as long as they can provide plans for the management of radioactive waste and for decommissioning. Gas projects with permits issued until 2030 would also be eligible, provided they fulfil a series of conditions, including emissions under 270g CO₂e/kWh. These provisions would deal a significant blow to the EU’s climate and environment action.

Nuclear power generates high-level radioactive waste, and a commercially viable long-term solution has yet to be found. Fossil gas is already the leading source of greenhouse gas emissions from power generation in Europe. Encouraging investments in fossil gas by giving it a green label will only exacerbate its devastating climate impact, warned Greenpeace.  In both cases, renewables are cheaper and faster to deploy, meaning that sending the wrong signal to private investors could disrupt the  energy transition towards 100% renewables and delay the EU’s progress on its climate commitments.

The development comes after the EU had already severely undermined the taxonomy last year by labelling the burning of trees for energy as another sustainable activity. 

Greenpeace EU programme director Magda Stoczkiewicz said: “The Commission’s taxonomy is a licence to greenwash. Polluting companies will be delighted to have the EU’s seal of approval to attract cash and keep wrecking the planet by burning fossil gas and producing radioactive waste. Promoting these toxic and expensive forms of energy for decades to come is a real threat to Europe’s energy transition. The Commission has shown a shocking disregard for the climate crisis, nature and the people of Europe. The European Parliament and governments need to stop this plan.”

Next steps

Following feedback from government representatives and experts, the Commission will present the final text later in January. 

National governments and the European Parliament have the power to reject the proposal to stop it from automatically entering into force.


Magda Stoczkiewicz – Greenpeace EU programme director: +32 (0)495 290028, [email protected]

Greenpeace EU press desk: +32 (0)2 274 1911, [email protected]

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