January 25, 2022
“Ireland must take firm stance against greenwashing of EU Taxonomy” – Chris MacManus MEP

“Ireland must take firm stance against greenwashing of EU Taxonomy” – Chris MacManus MEP

“The inclusion of gas and nuclear energy in the Sustainable Finance Taxonomy would amount to greenwashing and must be firmly opposed by the Irish government and MEPs,” said Chris MacManus, MEP for the Midlands Northwest. “There is a very narrow political window in which to reject this greenwashing attempt, and Ireland needs to be clear and vocal in its opposition to the Commission’s proposal.”

The European Commission, in its draft delegated act released on 31 December, proposes to include gas and nuclear energy under the Sustainable Finance Taxonomy once certain conditions are met – allowing such projects to be considered green for the purposes of public and private funding.

Speaking in Brussels, MacManus said, “I call on the government and particularly the Minister for the Environment, Climate and Communications to express their firm disagreement with this draft. In March 2021, Minister Ryan co-signed a letter to the Commission with his Danish, Spanish, Austrian and Luxembourgish counterparts, stating that he “strongly opposed” any change to the maximum emission thresholds for energy generation (which could allow for the inclusion of fossil gas projects). However, when the same ministers wrote a letter objecting to the draft act on 20 January, Minister Ryan’s name was noticeably absent. In a response to a Parliamentary Question posed by my Sinn Féin colleague Darren O’Rourke, the Minister said that primary responsibility for the Taxonomy lay with the Department of Finance, and that his Department would merely input into the response.” 

“The Green Party must not shirk responsibility on this and should use their place in government to reject any attempt to greenwash the Sustainable Finance Taxonomy. The Taxonomy is supposed to give a clear, science-based indication of what can be considered “sustainable” for financing purposes. It will increasingly be used to evaluate what projects can receive money from the mandatory green streams of EU funding. Including gas and nuclear in the taxonomy, even under the title of “transition activity”, provides the opposite of clarity. It poses a major risk that public money intended for truly sustainable projects will instead be channelled into these polluting and expensive energy projects.” 

MacManus was speaking after the publication on 24th January of a report by the EU’s expert Platform on Sustainable Finance, which said that gas and nuclear should not be included in the Taxonomy. 

“Now that the Commission’s own expert group has denounced the draft delegated act, I urge Commissioner McGuinness to truly consider the scientific evidence, as well as the precautionary principle, and scrap the draft proposal,” said MacManus. “The entire process around this draft has been flawed, as it was released on New Year’s Eve with very tight deadlines for Member States and expert groups to respond. Furthermore, the Commission does not foresee a four-week public consultation period on the document, which is a legal requirement for new delegated acts. Such shoddy law-making should not pass unchallenged.” ENDS

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