(Bloomberg) -- European Union lawmakers voted down an objection to labeling natural gas and nuclear energy as green, removing the last major barrier to potentially billions of euros of funding from environmental investors.

Parliament fell short of the 353 votes needed to reject the motion to block the inclusion of gas and nuclear technology in the EU’s so-called Taxonomy, a list of economic activities deemed in line with the bloc’s transition to climate neutrality. Barring an unlikely objection from member states, it now means the regulation will start at the beginning of next year.

The vote means that new gas plants will be able to tap into a fresh pool of money from environmental, social and governance investors, albeit for a limited time and only when those facilities are replacing coal-fired stations. It will also serve as a boost to Europe’s struggling nuclear sector, which countries like France have touted as a low-carbon energy source crucial for the replacement of Russian fossil fuels.

The result is a relief for the European Commission, the bloc’s executive branch, which had first mooted the proposal late last year. The legislation had looked increasingly unpopular after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine put into question the role of gas as a transition fuel amid soaring prices and the threat of reduced supplies. 

Scientists, environmental activists and even a large part of the investment management industry had criticized gas and nuclear getting a green label on concerns that it could divert investment from renewables and tarnish what the EU had pitched as a “gold standard” for green finance.

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