Press release: 14 June 2022

ClientEarth says EP vote must be “final nail in the coffin” for gas in the Taxonomy

Members of the European Parliament have today vetoed the inclusion of gas and nuclear in the EU’s sustainable finance rulebook.

The EU Taxonomy sets the rules for what counts as an environmentally sustainable economic activity. Under current drafting, the Commission officially classifies fossil gas and nuclear-based activities as environmentally sustainable under the EU Taxonomy. Members of the ECON/ENVI Joint Committee have today decided to object to this classification.

ClientEarth lawyer Marta Toporek said: “Branding fossil gas as transitional and green in the Taxonomy is not only flagrant self-sabotage in climate terms – it is unlawful. It clashes with the EU’s key climate legislation and the main piece of EU legislation on the Taxonomy itself. The Commission’s decision to include gas in the Taxonomy was clearly politically motivated, while it should have been based on strong scientific evidence. It is also an evident example of greenwashing.

“MEPs in the ECON/ENVI Joint Committee have seen through this and have decided to object to the farce. Today’s vote ought to be the final nail in the coffin for gas in the Taxonomy.”

Methane is the main component of fossil gas, with a global warming potential over 85 times higher than that of CO2 over 20 years.

Bangladesh, Colombia and South Africa have taken a stronger stance than the EU on the inclusion of fossil gas in their sustainable finance taxonomies.

The European Parliament will take a final decision on the approval or rejection of the act during a plenary vote in July.


Notes to editors:

In October 2021, ClientEarth published a legal analysis showing that including gas in the Taxonomy creates a serious risk of clash with other EU laws, in particular:

  • The EU’s obligations under the Paris Agreement;
  • EU climate laws, including the European Climate Law with its commitment to a climate-neutral Europe by 2050 and a minimum 55% CO2 reduction by 2030;
  • The Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, which requires the EU to “pursue a high degree of environmental protection and international cooperation to combat climate change”; and
  • The Taxonomy Regulation itself because fossil gas-based activities do not “contribute to climate change mitigation” as  laid out in the EU Taxonomy Regulation, and they do not qualify under the EU Taxonomy Regulation as “transitional” activities.

In May 2022, ClientEarth sent a letter to MEPs to call on them to vote against the inclusion of fossil gas in the Taxonomy.

ClientEarth has just teamed up with other NGOs to challenge 30 gas projects in Europe via the PCI (Projects of Common Interest) list. They argue the privileged treatment of gas directly contradicts the EU’s climate obligations.

About ClientEarth

ClientEarth is a non-profit organisation that uses the law to create systemic change that protects the Earth for – and with – its inhabitants. We are tackling climate change, protecting nature and stopping pollution, with partners and citizens around the globe. We hold industry and governments to account, and defend everyone’s right to a healthy world. From our offices in Europe, Asia and the USA we shape, implement and enforce the law, to build a future for our planet in which people and nature can thrive together.