The European Parliament voted on Wednesday to accept the European Commission’s (EC) proposal to classify new natural gas and nuclear energy projects as “green”.
The classification would allow for low-cost grants and loans for natural gas and nuclear projects deemed environmentally sustainable.
“This vote is an important recognition of our pragmatic and realistic approach to helping many member states on their path to transitioning to climate neutrality,” the EC said in a statement.
Since the regulations were first proposed in 2020, the final draft has been repeatedly delayed due to disputes between European Union (EU) member countries. Natural gas and nuclear are necessary for the EU to achieve its net zero ambitions in 2050, EU climate policy chief Frans Timmerman has previously said. Europe also aims to reduce its emissions by 55% by 2030.
The move would also provide Europe with additional means to add electricity and fuel options as it tries to wean itself off Russian imports amid the war in Ukraine. The regulation is expected to come into force early next year.
For natural gas projects to qualify as green investment under the EU proposal, new gas-fired power plants cannot emit more than 270 grams of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2)/kWh. Permits to build the facilities are expected to be granted by the end of 2030.
All new nuclear power plants that will be built under proposed EU regulations must be classified as green or sustainable to receive construction permits by 2045. Funding, water resources and a safe site to dispose of waste radioactive materials should also meet new criteria.
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