The European Parliament backed EU rules labeling investments in gas and nuclear power plants as climate-friendly on Wednesday, rejecting an attempt to block the law, which has exposed deep rifts between countries over how to combat climate change.
The vote clears the way for the European Union proposal to become law, unless 20 of the bloc’s 27 member states decide to oppose it, which is considered highly unlikely.
The new rules will include gas and nuclear power plants in the EU’s “taxonomy” rulebook beginning in 2023, allowing investors to label and market green investments in them.
Out of the 639 lawmakers present, 328 voted against the motion to block the EU gas and nuclear proposals, while 278 voted in favor of the motion. There were 33 abstentions.
Opponents of the new rules failed to garner the 353 votes required for a majority in the 705-seat parliament.
This will come as a relief to the European Commission, which proposed the rules in February after more than a year of delay and intense lobbying from the government, the gas and nuclear industries, and others.
“There will be no greenwashing,” said EU finance chief Mairead McGuinness on Tuesday.
The EU taxonomy is a landmark law that aims to clear up the murky world of sustainable investing by requiring financial products that make eco-friendly claims to adhere to strict standards.
The debate over gas and nuclear regulations has divided EU countries, legislators, and investors. Brussels redrafted the rules several times, flip-flopping on whether to award a green label to gas plants. Its final proposal sparked heated debate about how to meet climate goals in the midst of a gas supply crisis with Russia.
Nuclear energy produces radioactive waste but emits no CO2. Gas emits greenhouse gases, but some EU countries see it as a transition fuel in the transition away from dirtier coal.
France, which relies on nuclear power, and Poland, which relies heavily on coal, were among those who supported the new rules.
The governments of Austria and Luxembourg have threatened to sue the EU if its proposal becomes law, while Denmark and others have warned that labeling CO2-emitting gases as green would undermine the EU’s credibility in combating climate change.
Lawmakers also disagree on how the law will affect financial markets, with some warning that denying “green” status to gas and nuclear projects could result in higher capital costs.
Others argue that the taxonomy’s political symbolism outweighs the impact on investors because the law does not prohibit investments in activities that do not bear the green label.