Two insects and a living fossil are proving crucial to the production of effective coronavirus vaccines, while medicines developed from leech saliva are saving thousands of lives.
WWF, along with 225 scientists, financial institutions and NGOs, is sounding the alarm about a proposal by the European Commission to classify new fossil gas projects as environmentally sustainable under the EU Taxonomy of Sustainable Investments.
In the Commission’s proposal, a key criteria is that new gas cogeneration plants could be counted as green until the end of 2025 if they replace coal plants closing.
However, early analysis reveals there are many more coal plants scheduled to close in the EU than gas cogeneration plants scheduled to open.
If this criterion were applied across the entire EU, up to 100% of new cogeneration gas plants constructed until the end of 2025 would be eligible to be labelled as green: this shows the scale of the loophole, which will be applied in EU just transition regions.
Incentivising gas plants
The EU’s supposed ‘gold standard’ for sustainable investments could in fact provide an incentive to build more gas plants while failing to close more coal plants.
Allowing gas to be labelled as green ignores the massive environmental impact of methane, a highly potent greenhouse gas which is released during the extraction of fossil gas.
Methane’s impact on climate change is up to 84 times greater than CO2 in a 20-year timeframe and, if fossil gas leaks only 3% of its methane content, it causes even more warming than coal.
The proposal is also completely contradictory to the recommendations of the Commission’s own Technical Expert Group, which were published last year.
A few months after the recommendations’ release, over 45,000 EU citizens responded to the public consultation on the taxonomy and underlined the importance of a taxonomy based on science – a position representing 97% of all consultation responses.
A petition calling for the EU to commit to cutting fossil fuels out of EU public recovery funds has reached nearly 400,000 signatures.