Today, the Council agreed its position on the planned classification of sustainable investments. The Commission had published the relevant proposal for a regulation in May last year. The Council text contains wording that could potentially allow nuclear power to be listed as sustainable activity (climate neutral energy (including carbon-neutral energy)). This would mean, for example, that a financial product is marketed as sustainable and the fund behind it invests in nuclear power alongside the expected sustainable assets. Germany, Luxembourg, and Austria recently tried to prevent this wording through a joint declaration, but were unable to assert themselves against resistance from France, among others. In its position, taken at the beginning of the year, Parliament categorically excluded nuclear energy, gas and coal from the definition of sustainable investments. The co-legislators must now agree on a common position in interinstitutional negotiations so that the classification can come into force.
MEP Sven Giegold, financial and economic policy spokesperson of the Greens/EFA group commented:
“Nuclear power has no place in sustainable financial products. By opening this back door for nuclear power, the Council risks destroying investor confidence and does sustainable financial markets a major disservice. Regardless of what one thinks of nuclear power, the reputation of the green financial market must not be burdened with it. We need uniform definitions and exclusion criteria for green investments in order to curb greenwashing. It is a sad testimony of the state of Franco-German relations when the question of nuclear power causes a symbolic political conflict in discussions on sustainable financial markets. No French nuclear power plant would be prevented by a lack of green financing instruments.
While the German representatives were on the brakes for a long time with regard to the bindingness of the standards, their resistance to the inclusion of nuclear power in green financial products is a ray of hope. In the forthcoming negotiations between Council and Parliament, we will do our utmost to save the credibility of sustainable financial markets and to exclude the financing of environmentally harmful activities through green financial products. It is annoying that due to the hesitation of the German representatives, the classification will not become binding before 2023. The financial markets need to contribute strongly to the fight against climate change as soon as possible. In addition, the new rules should be extended to all financial actors and products and not only apply to those financial products declared as sustainable as it is currently planned. This is a precondition to establish a European standard for green bonds and a consumer label for sustainable financial products.”