EU lawmakers, member states find compromise on green finance

Finance and Business

Police and fire personnel move in to remove climate activists after they climbed the Europa building during a demonstration outside an EU summit meeting in Brussels, Thursday, Dec. 12, 2019. Greenpeace activists on Thursday scaled the European Union’s new headquarters, unfurling a huge banner warning of a climate emergency hours before the bloc’s leaders gather for a summit focused on plans to combat global warming.(AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

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BRUSSELS (AP) — EU lawmakers and member countries have agreed on a deal to promote environmentally-friendly investment after weeks of discussions that had stalled over whether to exclude nuclear projects.

EU countries were split last week over the green finance law, which aims to channel money into clean investment. The main sticking point had been whether financial products involving nuclear power could be labelled as green and receive funding, as France, Britain and some other eastern countries wanted.

That rift over nuclear power was also on display last week during an EU summit in Brussels where leaders fiercely debated over the need for nuclear energy to be part of the bloc’s plan to make its economy carbon neutral by 2050. With the support of France, the pro-nuclear countries won that argument and got a clear reference to nuclear power in the meeting’s conclusions.

The compromise agreement on green finance adopted by EU Parliament negotiators and the European Council late Monday will exclude solid fossil fuels like coal from any new investment support, but will allow natural gas and nuclear energy.

“These activities can potentially be labelled as an enabling or transitional activity in full respect of the “do no significant harm” principle,” the EU Parliament said in a statement.

Bas Eickhout, member of the European Green Party, said the agreement “will shift financial flows toward more sustainable economic activities.”

The Socialists group said the deal will also have positive social repercussions as it prevents products that violate EU social rights from getting subsidies.

“To give you a concrete example: an electric car, whose battery was produced by child labor, cannot be labelled sustainable,” said Paul Tang, a lawmaker who took part in negotiations.

The agreement needs to still be approved by a plenary vote of EU lawmakers to be implemented.

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