Bellona Europa and ClientEarth kicked-off the first event in the planned series on the Taxonomy CDA on the 11th of May. With high level speakers MEP Sirpa Pietikäinen (EPP), Stefan Sengelin (Austrian Ministry of Climate Action, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology) and Marta Toporek from Client Earth. The aim of the event was to discuss “Fossil Gas in the EU Taxonomy CDA: Breach of laws and non-respect of democratic processes?”. The conclusions were clear from all speakers, the Taxonomy CDA include significant breaches of laws and has not respected the democratic processes.
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Need a refresher? Access our brief explainer on the Taxonomy CDA’s breaches of laws and democratic shortcomings here.
Firstly, Toporek from ClientEarth provided an introduction to the topic, highlighting that while the Taxonomy is meant to be a classification tool, this is an aspect often forgotten in the ongoing conversations and discussions. Toporek added that the Taxonomy’s purpose is to facilitate the green transition, enabling the shift of a tremendous amount of capital needed to sustainable economic activities –and that the Taxonomy is not intended to deal with or ensure for example energy security.
Going into further legal details, Toporek added that Delegated Acts cannot change essential elements of the Regulation it covers. In fact, explained Toporek, the proposed Taxonomy CDA departs quite a lot from the Taxonomy Regulation – not based on scientific evidence, but rather being a political decision.
MEP Sirpa Pietikäinen, in her presentation, highlighted the latter point made by Toporek – explaining that at a political level there was agreement between Parliament and the Council for a science-based Taxonomy. Pietikäinen added that the technical screening criteria outlined in the Taxonomy CDA must be in line with the most recent climate science, to this end, and that the resulting “gold standard” does not entail that economic activities are sustainable simply because they are relatively better than others, it must live up to the scientific levels and target needed to combat climate change.
Pietikäinen also contextualized the ongoing discussions on the Taxonomy CDA with the ongoing geopolitical situation, explaining that in ensuring that the Taxonomy “Does No Significant Harm”, it is hard to see how the CDA complies – given not only issues related to the social taxonomy but also in relation to governance principles.
Further explaining on the democratic shortcomings of the process, circumvention of co-legislators, lack of consultations and breach of mandate, Pietikäinen explained that: “I think this is a serious breach of a first level regulation, the most worst that I have seen in more than 20 years being in the European Parliament. And I think seriously that if this goes further, the Commission should be sued because there are more reasons why it [the Taxonomy CDA] doesn’t follow it [the Taxonomy Regulation] than the reasons it would follow”.
Outlining the Austrian perspective, Sengelin stated clearly that: “We see that the Complementary Delegated Act would be legally flawed if it would be adapted, and we have several reasons for that”. Sengelin mentioned the poor procedure and process leading up to the adoption of the Taxonomy CDA – explaining that the European Commission did not carry out the necessary impact assessment, and did not consult the public on these very important criteria. Additionally, the Member States’ Expert Group and the sustainable finance platform did not have sufficient time, nor was it consulted properly to actually provide their views.
Adding to the comments made by both Toporek and Pietikäinen, Sengelin added that “the Taxonomy does not prohibit any economic activity, it just identifies those that bring us closer to the environmental goals. So it shouldn’t be interchanged as an instrument for security of supply, the Taxonomy is not an instrument to control this, but an instrument to redirect financial flows”.
As the end of the scrutiny period is getting closer, it is all the more important that the shortcomings, and direct breaches of law, in the Taxonomy CDA are brought to the forefront of the ongoing discussions. The current Taxonomy CDA sets a dangerous precedent if approved, with significant risks to harm the trust between co-legislators in the EU, as well from the public and markets. Help us spread the word, and don’t forget to follow the rest of our planned events, more information available here: Bellona Europa Launches Taxonomy CDA Event Series – Bellona.org