Media reaction: 21 January 2022

Environmental lawyers eye legal action over gas in EU taxonomy

Environmental law charity ClientEarth said it will be looking at legal action if fossil gas-based activities are included in the EU Taxonomy as transitional activities and if applicable legal requirements are not fully respected.

The news comes as the consultation on the draft proposal for Member States and the Platform on Sustainable Finance is now closing.

The draft proposal – first shared late on New Year’s Eve – classifies different gas and nuclear based economic activities as transitional and therefore as ‘sustainable’ investments.

ClientEarth lawyer Marta Toporek said: “Gas is a fossil fuel and its extraction and use is rife with environmental and climate issues. Including it in the taxonomy as proposed by the Commission will not only harm the EU’s credibility, it’s also unlawful.

“Our legal analysis shows that branding gas as transitional and green in the taxonomy clashes with a number of EU laws, including the EU’s obligations under the Paris Agreement, the European Climate Law and the Taxonomy Regulation itself.

“Failing to take these legal obligations into account puts the Commission at serious risk of legal challenge.”


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 recently adopted 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”;
  • The Taxonomy Regulation itself because gas activities do not meet the definition of “climate change mitigation”, one of the Taxonomy’s categories, and they do not comply with EU Taxonomy requirements for “transition” measures.
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.