The European Parliament voted in favor on Wednesday of accepting the proposal by the European Commission (EC) to classify new natural gas and nuclear power projects as “green.”

Methane Emissions

The classification would allow for subsidies and low-cost loans for natural gas and nuclear projects deemed environmentally sustainable.

“This vote is important recognition of our pragmatic and realistic approach in helping many member states on their transition path towards climate neutrality,” the EC said in a statement. 

Since the regulations were first proposed in 2020, the final draft has been delayed several times because of disputes among European Union (EU) member countries. Both natural gas and nuclear are needed for the EU to reach 2050 net zero ambitions, EU climate policy chief Frans Timmerman said previously. Europe also aims to slash emissions by 55% by 2030.

The ruling also would provide Europe with additional means to add power and fuel options as it tries to wean itself off Russian imports amid the war in Ukraine. The regulation is expected to become effective early next year.

For natural gas projects to qualify as a green investment under the EU proposal, new gas-fired power plants cannot emit more than 270 grams of carbon dioxide (CO2) equivalent/kWh. Permits to construct facilities would have to be granted by the end of 2030.

All new nuclear power plants to be built under the EU’s proposed regulations must be classified as green or sustainable to receive construction permits by 2045. Financing, water resources and a safe site to dispose of radioactive waste also would have to meet new criteria.