EU adopts first ‘taxonomy’ list of sustainable sectors for investors
Despite opposition from France, Poland, Hungary and others, the EU’s first list of ‘sustainable’ sectors for investors will now become law (1).
Some EU governments had threatened they would block the first ‘taxonomy’ list if nuclear and gas were not included as ‘sustainable’ in the second list, which is expected to be proposed soon. In the end, 13 governments opposed it (2) - 2 Member States short of the blocking threshold (3) - and the proposal went through automatically.
The newly adopted taxonomy list covers around a hundred economic activities divided into nine sectors (4).
Importantly, the fact that this first set of sectors has now been approved frees the European Commission of the bullying by France and others on including nuclear and gas in the second one. The Commission can and must now scrap these harmful sectors from the second proposal...
While many of the final criteria in the first taxonomy list are robust, there is a glaring error. The proposal categorically classifies industrial logging and the burning of trees and crops for energy - potentially harmful both to climate and nature - as ‘sustainable’ investments, because of the counterproductive lobbying from Sweden and Finland. WWF assessed these criteria as unscientific, and strongly criticised them, not least because of the climate and conservation risks associated with some types of biomass. However, the text contains a rapid review clause for both bioenergy and forestry, which is the opportunity to bring the rules in line with climate science as soon as 2022.