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ARTICLE9 April 2021

There are few bright spots in the European Commission’s leaked new taxonomy proposals

Within the EU Commission’s recently leaked revised draft delegated Act on the climate-related parts of the taxonomy, several of the sections that had aroused great discussions - not least in Sweden - have now been revised. Overall, however, we find it deeply concerning that it is clearly politics, not science, that now define what is and what is not contributing to a sustainable society in the proposal. 

Marcus MorfeldtPhoto: Ernst Henry Photography AB

Within the EU Commission’s recently leaked revised draft delegated Act on the climate-related parts of the taxonomy, several of the sections that had aroused great discussions - not least in Sweden - have now been revised. Overall, however, we find it deeply concerning that it is clearly politics, not science, that now define what is and what is not contributing to a sustainable society in the proposal. This affects both the credibility and legitimacy of the proposals. It is also increasingly obvious that the design of the taxonomy regulations is growing in importance. A stark example of this is the fact that the taxonomy will be linked to the EU Recovery Fund.

At the same time, some of the technical criteria for the climate-related parts of the taxonomy have been improved in comparison with the proposal that was presented in November 2020. The Confederation of Swedish Enterprise, along with many other actors, has undertaken extensive advocacy efforts, which is evident from these improvements. Not least, this applies to those parts of the proposal that are of crucial importance to our energy supply and therefore to our ability to cope with climate change.

However, there are still a number of problems and challenges that remain within the revised proposal, both at a comprehensive level as well as to criteria for specific activities. For example, the introduction of the reporting requirements regarding the climate elements is still set at 1 January 2022. Given how the process has dragged on and the delegated act has not yet been adopted, this is unreasonable and impractical. Companies must be given more advanced warning than this if they are to be able to collect and manage the data in question.

Another of our concerns is over natural gas. We find it worrying that the combustion of natural gas - which gives rise to significant CO2 emissions, is now being proposed to be classified as long-term sustainable. The significance of this, now that other parts of the world have announced that they will follow the lead of the EU and develop their own taxonomies, cannot be understated. This is another clear example of exactly how it is politics, not science, that is shaping the design of the proposal.

It is also unfortunate that nuclear power, which - according to the Commission, the IPCC and the IEA - is a crucial element of the solution to allow us to cope with climate change, is not included in this act. Instead, it is following a separate route. Climate change is not included in this act, but instead follows its own separate path. Nuclear power would have needed to be included in order to demonstrate a genuinely technology-neutral approach, one that also takes into account the system perspective of a sustainable energy supply.

In conclusion, it is important to remember that these comments are based only on a leaked version of a revised draft delegated Act. As a result, the design may continue to change. We will therefore return at a future date with comment and analysis of the formal and final proposal, which is expected to be presented on 21 April 2021.

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Contact our EU-Office

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Publisher and editor-in-chief Anna Dalqvist