March 22, 2022
Chris MacManus MEP questions Commissioner McGuinness over sustainable finance taxonomy

Chris MacManus MEP questions Commissioner McGuinness over sustainable finance taxonomy

Speaking at a hearing of the European Parliament in Brussels, Midlands Northwest MEP Chris MacManus has questioned the European Commission’s inclusion of gas and nuclear energy in its sustainable finance taxonomy. Addressing Mairead McGuinness, Commissioner responsible for Financial Services, Financial Stability and the Capital Markets Union, MacManus criticised the Commission’s move to include the two polluting activities under the taxonomy by means of a complementary delegated act. 

“This complementary delegated act not only jeopardises the environmental goals of the taxonomy, but calls its very integrity as a policy instrument into question”, said MacManus. “The taxonomy is intended to provide a robust standard of environmentally sustainable activities. This complementary delegated act provides anything but clarity, by including energy sources that cannot be considered environmentally sustainable.”

The inclusions of gas and nuclear in the taxonomy undermines its original aim to provide a science-based tool for private and public investors seeking to make sustainable financial decisions. “On the one hand,” said MacManus, “the complementary delegated act will lead to investors using their own metrics and evaluations, leaving the taxonomy aside. On the other, if the EU defines gas and nuclear as ‘green’ activities, this definition risks being propagated by financial actors and other jurisdictions.”

MacManus referred to comments made by Nathan Fabian, chair of the Commission’s own expert group, the Platform on Sustainable Finance, which has been overwhelmingly critical of the Commission’s decision to include gas and nuclear energy in the taxonomy. MacManus asked the Commissioner to respond to Mr Fabian’s “astute observation that it seems that the Commission is conflating the taxonomy with policies to manage all technologies that will be used during the transition. The taxonomy was not intended to do this, and therefore this complementary delegated act is a significant deviation from the underlying legislation.” Commissioner McGuinness did not respond directly to this question, but said she “disagreed fundamentally” that the inclusion of gas and nuclear goes against the EU’ environmental goals.

Speaking after the hearing, MacManus said “it is clear that the Commissioner is under pressure to defend a political compromise that is becoming less relevant by the day. We need to carefully manage the energy transition but the sustainable finance taxonomy is not the place to do so. The Commissioner was adamant that she will not withdraw this complementary delegated act; now it is up to the European Parliament to object to this errant decision and ensure that the aim and integrity of the Taxonomy Regulation cannot be changed through the back door.” ENDS

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