Sustainable Finance Taxonomy greenwashing, EU

The EU’s Sustainable Finance Taxonomy sets the rules under which economic activities can be labelled as green, thus potentially affecting trillions in investments. However, the criteria for forestry and biomass energy projects fail to meet the main requirement of the Taxonomy – that projects actually mitigate climate change.

The European Court of Justice. 

Green investments are hot, but how to decide what is actually “green”? The EU established the Sustainable Finance Taxonomy, which contains voluntary criteria for activities in a number of sectors, including forestry and bioenergy. In September 2022 we supported a group of NGOs from across the EU in filing an annulment action against the European Commission that seeks to block forest biomass and forestry projects being labelled as sustainable economic activities under Taxonomy.  The case argues that the qualifying criteria for forestry and bioenergy projects violate basic legal obligations under primary EU law as well as key obligations under the Taxonomy Regulation because they are not based in scientific evidence, they fail to mitigate climate change, and they fail to avoid significant harm.

Our NGO partners in the case are Save Estonia’s Forests (Estonia), ROBIN WOOD (Germany), Clean Air Committee (Netherlands), Workshop for All Beings (Poland), ZERO (Portugal), 2Celsius (Romania), and Protect the Forest (Sweden).  A further group of nearly 50 international NGOs wrote to the European Commission confirming their support for the legal challenge.

The case was initiated in February 2022 with a Request for Review to the European Commission that asked the EC to reconsider and revise its criteria for forest biomass and forestry projects. The Commission declined the opportunity to review, prompting filing of the legal case. The case has been accepted by the Court of Justice and all written pleadings have been submitted. The case has now been listed for an oral hearing before the General Court on 14 November 2024.

News Coverage

Coverage after filing request for internal review (Feb 2022)

Reuters, Feb. 4, 2022. Campaigners begin legal fight against EU green investment rules – documents

Euractiv, Feb. 4, 2022. Campaigners begin legal fight against EU taxonomy’s bioenergy rules

NPO Radio 1, Feb. 4, 2022. Cut down trees to save the environment?

AD, Feb. 4, 2022. Environmental groups challenge Brussels: ‘Burning forests is not a climate contribution’

De Telegraaf, Feb. 4, 2022. Legal battle over biomass: ‘Don’t put those billions in forest burning’

Ambiente magazine, Feb. 4, 2022. European NGOs challenge Commission measures for violating Taxonomy Regulation

Presseportal, Feb. 4, 2022. EU taxonomy: NGO coalition wants to prevent greenwashing with lawsuit

Lusa, Feb. 6, 2022. NGOs file complaint against European Commission for “polluting the climate in an ecological way”

Dnoticias, Feb. 6, 2022. NGOs file complaint against European Commission for “polluting the climate in an ecological way”

Renascença, Feb. 6, 2022. Zero files complaint against European Commission

Agroportal, Feb. 6, 2022. NGOs file complaint against European Commission for “polluting the climate in an ecological way”

Cidade, Feb. 6, 2022. NGOs file complaint against European Commission for “polluting the climate in an ecological way”

NN Portugal, Feb. 6, 2022. NGOs file complaint against European Commission for “polluting the climate in an ecological way”

Dnoticias, Feb. 6, 2022. NGOs file complaint against European Commission for “polluting the climate in an ecological way”

Diário Digital Castelo Branco, Feb. 6, 2022. NGOs file complaint against European Commission for “polluting the climate in an ecological way”

M80 Radio, Feb. 6, 2022. NGOs file complaint against European Commission for “polluting the climate in an ecological way”

Radio Comercial, Feb. 6, 2022. NGOs file complaint against European Commission for “polluting the climate in an ecological way”

Sapo, Feb. 6, 2022. Seven organizations file complaint against the European Commission for “polluting the climate in an ecological way”

Sapo, Feb. 6, 2022. NGOs file complaint against European Commission for “polluting the climate in an ecological way”

Smooth FM, Feb. 6, 2022. NGOs file complaint against European Commission for “polluting the climate in an ecological way”

Visão, Feb. 6, 2022. NGOs file complaint against European Commission for “polluting the climate in an ecological way”

Live Lora 924 Interview, undatedhttp://live.lora924.de:8000/podcast/loramagazin-montag.mp3

Mongabay, Mar. 14, 2022. Activists vow to take EU to court to fight its forest biomass policies


Coverage after filing with EU Court of Justice (Sep 2022)

Carbon Pulse, Sep. 16, 2022. NGOs sue European Commission over inclusion of biomass in Taxonomy

Noticiasaominuto, Sep. 16, 2022. NGOs go to court to remove bioenergy from sustainable activities

Agroportal, Sep. 16, 2022. European environmentalists go to court to remove bioenergy from sustainable activities

Lusa, Sep. 16, 2022. European environmentalists go to court to remove bioenergy from sustainable activities

Observador, Sep. 19, 2022. European environmentalists go to court to remove bioenergy from sustainable activities

Euractiv, Sep. 19, 2022. Brussels sued for including fossil gas in EU’s green finance taxonomy

Law.com, Sep. 19, 2022. In 2 Separate Suits, NGOs Sue European Commission Over Green Investment Label

Sueddeutsche Zeitung, Sep. 19, 2022. Nature conservationists want to sue against the green classification

Welectric, Sep. 19, 2022. European rules threaten forests. NGOs want to stop legislation

Spiegel, Sep. 19, 2022. Environmentalists want to sue against green labels for gas and nuclear power

Legal Tribune Online, Sep. 19, 2022. Resistance to nuclear power and gas as “green” energies

Stern, Sep. 19, 2022. Nuclear power and gas should become “green” – environmentalists want to take this to the European Court of Justice

FAZ, Sep. 19, 2022. Green classification of nuclear and gas: conservationists want to sue

Berliner Zeitung, Sep. 19, 2022. Conservationists want to sue against the “green” classification

Zeit Online, Sep. 19, 2022. Conservationists want to sue against the “green” classification

Tagesschau, Sep. 19, 2022. Environmentalists take action against taxonomy

Watson, Sep. 19, 2022. EU introduction of nuclear and gas as “green”: conservationists want to sue

SGVoice, Sep. 20, 2022. NGOs sue EU for the inclusion of forest biomass in sustainable taxonomy

Blackout News, Sep. 22, 2022. EU taxonomy: environmentalists want to sue