Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Business as Usual

An effort to set standards for determining which financial products qualify as “green” should be delayed until the end of 2022, European Union governments agreed on Wednesday, and might end up including investments in coal.  A set of criteria and methodologies for deciding what made an investment green — that was due to take effect in 2020. But many EU members objected, fearing damage to their national industries. They also agreed to grant governments more powers to decide which investments are green.

Their compromise does not exclude any economic activity from being listed as green. That could pave the way for declaring as green investments meant to reduce the environmental impact of a coal-fired plant. The decision runs counter to recommendations from an EU expert group, which had advised in June excluding nuclear and coal-fired plants. Their environmental impact was seen as going against EU targets to cut carbon emissions and reduce hazardous waste. The compromise, ignored those concerns and tried instead to allay opposing fears of countries such as France, which relies on nuclear energy, and eastern European nations, which still depend on coal.

The EU’s broad criteria could divert money to technologies that “cannot be considered either safe or sustainable,” Germany said in a statement appended to the compromise text and also signed by Austria and Luxembourg.

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