EU Leaves NZIA Door Open for Unproven Technologies

In a plenary vote on 21 November, the EU Parliament delivered its verdict on the highly-debated Net Zero Industry Act (NZIA), with the decision to align with the Industry Committee’s stance, introducing an array of unproven technologies into the regulatory framework. “While the intention was to focus on proven technologies driving us toward the 2030 climate targets, this decision seems to rely on hocus-pocus rather than practical strategies,” said Camille Maury, Senior Policy Officer at the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) European Policy Office. The NZIA, a response to the US Inflation Reduction Act, aims to propel the bloc towards its climate targets while bolstering green technologies. However, the Parliament’s endorsement of unproven technologies like nuclear fusion and Small Modular Reactors deviates from the Act’s core objectives, according to the WWF. “This move shifts focus away from established green technologies like wind, solar, and renewable hydrogen, risking the diversion of public funds from crucial decarbonization initiatives,” Maury added. The decision also neglects limitations on carbon capture and storage (CCS) deployment, a move criticised by WWF as potentially perpetuating fossil fuel dependence. The failure to restrict CCS to unavoidable emissions in specific sectors raises concerns about it’s the NZIA’s efficacy in addressing industrial emissions before 2030, the WWF said. Further, the Parliament’s failure to exclude industrial clusters, termed ‘Net Zero Industry Valleys, from Natura 2000 sites has led to apprehension among environmentalists, with the WWF highlighting the risk of environmental harm without proper impact assessments in these protected areas. Attention will turn to the EU Council for their decision on the NZIA. The impending trilogue negotiations on the Act are expected to take place in December.  

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