Luxembourg, 18 April 2023 – Eight Greenpeace organisations have filed a lawsuit at the European Court of Justice today against the European Commission over the inclusion of fossil gas and nuclear energy in a March 2022 legal act supplementing the EU’s list of sustainable investments, the taxonomy Regulation.
On 9 September 2022, the same Greenpeace organisations that are acting today asked the Commission to review its decision on the inclusion of fossil gas and nuclear in the taxonomy. The Commission rejected this request on 8 February 2023, prompting the organisations’ decision to ask the EU General Court to annul the Commission’s decision of February 2023 and to declare the inclusion of fossil gas and nuclear in the EU taxonomy as invalid.
As the papers were officially filed electronically, Greenpeace Luxembourg activists gathered in front of the Court today to show their anger over the controversial “green” label for gas and nuclear. They were joined by grassroots activists from the Po delta in Italy, a fragile ecosystem where fossil gas extraction has led to soil subsidence and where there are new plans to extract more gas in the near future, as well as from the village of Konz in Germany, which lies downstream from the Cattenom nuclear power plant in France.
*** PHOTO AND VIDEO OF THE PROTEST IS AVAILABLE TO DOWNLOAD HERE ***
Vanni Destro from the Po delta in Italy said: “Gas extraction is a huge threat to our community in the Po delta. The ground is sinking and the sea is rising. When I hear about decisions like this ridiculous green label for gas and nuclear, it makes me think the EU has its priorities completely wrong. They spend their time finding ways to make polluters rich and they don’t care about the damage to communities like mine.”
For information about how the Po delta community in Italy has been impacted by pollution from fossil gas extraction, please see this factsheet.
The official applicants in the lawsuit are eight Greenpeace organisations in Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Belgium, Luxembourg, Central and Eastern Europe and the Greenpeace European Unit. Separately, ClientEarth, the WWF European Policy Office, BUND (Friends of the Earth Germany) and Transport and Environment are challenging the European Commission over the inclusion of fossil gas in the taxonomy. The Austrian government has also asked the Court to annul the Commission’s greenwashing act.
Greenpeace argues the Commission’s greenwashing act now allows fossil gas and nuclear power plants to receive money that otherwise would have gone to renewables. Shortly after the adoption of the EU taxonomy in July 2022, Electricité de France announced plans to support the financing of its old and poorly maintained nuclear reactors by issuing green bonds aligned with the taxonomy.
Greenpeace EU sustainable finance campaigner Ariadna Rodrigo said: “We’re in a race against climate and ecological breakdown. By rejecting the Commission’s dishonest attempt to greenwash gas and nuclear, the Court can give the EU a fighting chance of reaching the finish line. In the meantime, polluters are already using this fake label to syphon green finance away from where it’s needed. If you save money with a green pension fund, for example, that fund could now be supporting the expansion of the fossil fuel and nuclear industries. That’s unacceptable, and that’s why we’re in Court today.”
Greenpeace is represented in this case by a legal team including Attorney at Law Dr. Roda Verheyen, who played a leading role in the successful constitutional complaint against Germany’s 2019 Climate Protection Law, co-initiated by Greenpeace Germany. That case resulted in a German Constitutional Court ruling which found the 2019 Law to be unconstitutional and ordered the government to bring the Law into line with the 2015 Paris climate agreement.
Verheyen said: “This case is about proving that the European Commission has simply missed the mark. The delegated act on fossil gas and nuclear is not in line with what has been set down in EU law in the Taxonomy Regulation. Rather, the European Commission has violated the very idea of the Taxonomy Regulation – this is especially obvious as including nuclear activities does pose significant harm to the environment, which is expressly prohibited by the Regulation.”
For more technical and legal information about Greenpeace’s arguments against the inclusion of gas and nuclear in the EU taxonomy, please read our February 2023 media briefing.
Ariadna Rodrigo, Greenpeace EU sustainable finance campaigner: +32 (0)479 99 69 22, [email protected]
Dr. Roda Verheyen is available for questions and interviews about Greenpeace’s legal challenge against the addition of gas and nuclear to the EU taxonomy. To schedule an interview please call +49 (0) 171-8780830 or contact [email protected]
Greenpeace EU press desk: +32 (0)2 274 1911, [email protected]
For breaking news and comment on EU affairs: www.twitter.com/GreenpeaceEU