EU Taxonomy: Environmental groups start legal action against ‘sustainable’ gas classification
Posted on 18 September 2022
ClientEarth, WWF’s European Policy Office, Transport & Environment (T&E), and BUND (Friends of the Earth Germany) are starting legal action to prevent fossil gas from featuring in the EU’s sustainable finance Taxonomy.
The Taxonomy’s Complementary Delegated Act (CDA), adopted controversially before the summer, gives gas a ‘sustainable’ label. The groups argue the CDA clashes with other EU laws, in particular the Taxonomy Regulation itself and the European Climate Law. It also does not respect the EU’s obligations under the Paris Agreement.
Gas is responsible for sky-high energy bills across Europe. It also has detrimental impacts on the environment – including the release of vast amounts of carbon and methane emissions. This label risks channelling investments into this harmful energy source, away from genuinely sustainable sources of energy like homegrown renewables – and skilfully reducing demand in the first place.
A spokesperson for ClientEarth, WWF European Policy Office, T&E and BUND said:"Propping up gas, a fossil fuel which is currently at the centre of a cost of living crisis across the bloc, undermines the EU's fundamental aims of achieving cleaner, cheaper and more secure energy. To bring down people’s bills, secure energy supplies and protect citizens from climate chaos, the EU needs to stop greenwashing gas as ‘sustainable’ in the EU Taxonomy.
"The Taxonomy is supposed to be the gold standard for investments but, as it stands, this Taxonomy Act sends all the wrong signals to investors. It needs to be repealed."
The groups request the EU Commission to repeal the Complementary Delegated Act. The European Commission now has up to 22 weeks to reply. If the Commission refuses, the groups will be able to ask the Court of Justice of the EU to rule. The desired end result could be a judgement that forces the Commission to repeal the Complementary Delegated Act.
Notes to editors What is the legal procedure used in this case? In 2021, a landmark reform of EU access to justice laws was approved. This has lifted the main barriers preventing NGOs and people from challenging environmental wrongdoings in court. Environmental NGOs now have the right to ask EU institutions and bodies – in this case the European Commission – to review one of their own decisions for contravening EU law related to the environment. The Commission must officially reply to such a request within 16 weeks, a deadline that can be extended up to 22 weeks. If the claimants find that the Commission’s reply does not fix the legal violation, the claimants can sue the Commission in the Court of Justice of the European Union.
Both the IEA and the IPCC have clearly said no new oil and gas extraction projects should be commenced if we are to keep warming within 1.5C. Additionally, a recent study found that nearly half of existing fossil fuel production sites need to be shut down early if 1.5C is to be achieved.
WWF IS TAKING LEGAL ACTION
AGAINST THE EU'S GREENWASHING OF FOSSIL GAS