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26 Apr 2021

Frédéric Simon, EURACTIV

NGOs suspend participation in EU Sustainable Finance Platform over “unscientific” criteria for bioenergy & forestry in taxonomy

"NGOs walk out on EU green finance group over forestry, bioenergy rules", 22 April 2021

The WWF and several other NGOs have decided to suspend their participation in the European Commission’s Sustainable Finance Platform in protest against what they see as weak and “unscientific” criteria for bioenergy and forestry in the EU’s green finance taxonomy.

The global conservation group made the announcement on Wednesday evening (21 April), hours after the Commission unveiled a new set of rules spelling out detailed criteria that companies need to comply with in order to win a green investment label in the EU...

Other green NGOs that decided to leave the platform include Transport & Environment (T&E), BirdLife, the European consumer organisation BEUC, and ECOS, an environmental group campaigning for green product standards.

The European Commission’s green taxonomy rule book, unveiled on Wednesday, introduces a labelling system for investment that could divert hundreds of billions in funds to industries and companies that win a “sustainable” label for all or part of their activities.

It covers 13 sectors, including renewable energy, transport, forestry, manufacturing, buildings, insurance and even the arts, which together account for nearly 80% of EU greenhouse gas emissions, the Commission said.

But environmentalists say the taxonomy’s forestry criteria are too weak because they classify industrial logging and the burning of trees and crops for energy as ‘sustainable’ investments...

The WWF, together with other environmental groups and scientists, sent an open letter to the EU executive last month to raise concerns about what they described as “unscientific criteria” in the Commission’s proposal...

The European Commission said it is “aware of the concerns raised” by NGOs and “committed to reflect on how to improve the process on how technical screening criteria are being developed and set.”

However, the EU executive also defended the proposal tabled on Wednesday, saying it is “the best possible package at this current juncture,” given the political sensitivities over nuclear, gas and other energy technologies...