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EU Commission publishes draft rules to govern which economic sectors are considered environmentally sustainable under an EU taxonomy

"Bioenergy mars EU Commission’s attempts at a science-based Taxonomy", 20 Nov 2020

Today the EU Commission published draft rules to govern which economic sectors are considered sustainable in climate terms under an EU ‘Taxonomy’. The Commission took a commendable step away from fossil fuels by excluding them from the Taxonomy. It also rightly clarified whether the activities included are already zero-carbon or considered ‘transitional’ - meaning they still need to gradually lower their emissions - with criteria for being ‘transitional’ tightening over time.

Despite this progress, the Commission’s proposal would allow the burning of trees to be considered ‘sustainable’, even though it produces more greenhouse gas emissions than coal. It would also include new hydropower plants in the Taxonomy, despite the damage they do to biodiversity and the negligible contribution they would make to tackling climate change.

The Commission’s independent ‘Technical Expert Group’, which provided detailed scientific criteria as the basis for the rules, had advised against the inclusion of fossil fuels, small hydropower and the burning of trees for energy. Probably due to pressure from conservative lobbies, the Commission has nonetheless proposed that the last two be considered a green investment...

The proposed rules - known as a ‘Delegated Act’ - now go for public consultation until around mid-December. The European Commission will then have until 31 December to adopt the Delegated Act. It will then be over to the EU Parliament and Council which will have two months to accept or reject it.

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