BRUSSELS- Austria, Denmark, Sweden and the Netherlands have urged the European Union not to label gas energy projects as green investments, as Brussels attempts to finalise divisive rules on whether the fuel deserves a sustainable badge.
The European Commission drafted plans late last year to label gas and nuclear energy as green investments, an issue that has split the bloc's 27 countries as they disagree on how the fuels should contribute to Europe's shift to clean energy.
"The lack of scientific evidence for including fossil gas in the Taxonomy should lead to a reconsideration of the proposal by the European Commission," the four countries said in a letter to the EU's financial services chief.
Gas investments should not be labelled green unless they emit less than 100 grams of carbon dioxide per kilowatt hour, the countries said. That aligns with recommendations made last week by the EU's expert advisers on the rules, but is far lower than the 270g limit in the Commission's draft plan.
Countries are awaiting the Commission's final proposal, which is due on Wednesday.
Once published, a majority of the European Parliament or a super-majority of EU member states - 20 of the 27 countries - could block the rules.
The late push from the four states adds to the discord around the EU's "sustainable finance taxonomy," a rulebook that aims to set a gold standard to guide private investment towards activities that comply with science-based goals to tackle climate change.
The gas and nuclear rules have been delayed by more than a year, amid deep disagreements.
Some states, among them Poland and the Czech Republic, see gas and nuclear as crucial to wean countries off the dirtiest fossil fuel, coal. Opponents cite concerns about the safe disposal of nuclear waste, and say it would not be credible to label gas, a fossil fuel, as green.
Gas produces roughly half the CO2 emissions of coal when burned in power plants, but gas infrastructure is also associated with emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas.
(Reporting by Kate Abnett Editing by Mark Potter) ((Kate.Abnett@thomsonreuters.com;))