Germany, Austria and Luxembourg have hit Brussels’ plans to classify nuclear power as a sustainable technology in the EU. Landmark Labeling System for green investment, which is central to Europe’s plans to degas the bloc’s economy.
German Economy Minister Robert Habeck, who is a member of the Green Party in the country’s ruling coalition, said: “It is doubtful whether this green wash will even find acceptance in the financial market.” He told the German press agency DPA on Saturday: “In our opinion, there was no need for this addition to the taxonomy rules.”
Brussels’ proposal is part of a so-called “taxonomy” list, which aims to help channel billions of euros of investment needed to degas the bloc’s economy.
The plan, the first attempt by a leading regulator to bring clarity to investors seeking to invest private capital in sustainable economic activities, covers about 80 percent of the bloc’s emissions and is intended to be a “gold standard” for markets to decide what it is. really green or not.
But the process has been plagued by fierce political infighting within the European Commission and its member states.
Leonore Gewessler, Austria’s Minister of Climate and Energy, said on Saturday that Vienna would consider suing the European Commission if the classification of nuclear power as green continued. Claude Turmes, Luxembourg’s Minister of Energy, meanwhile called the inclusion of nuclear power a “provocation”.
The inclusion of nuclear power is widely regarded as a victory for the French government that encouraged Brussels to ensure that the new rules do not penalize a technology that provides nearly two-thirds of French electricity. Nuclear reactors do not generate CO2 emissions, but produce highly toxic waste.
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The inclusion of natural gas also means that a number of EU economies that rely on gas imports in Southern and Eastern Europe will support the initiative.
The inclusion of gas is also supported by Germany’s finance minister, Christian Lindner, who is the leader of the Liberal party in the ruling coalition. The draft proposal says gas can be considered sustainable under certain conditions, such as for new gas plants approved before the end of 2030 that emit less than 270g CO2 per kilowatt hour and if it replaces traditional fossil fuels such as coal.
“Germany realistically needs modern gas-fired power plants as a transition technology because we are giving up coal and nuclear power,” Lindner told the Süddeutsche Zeitung on Sunday. “I am grateful that arguments were apparently taken up by the commission.”
Three German nuclear plants went offline at the end of 2021, with the country’s remaining three facilities to be decommissioned in a year’s as part of a commitment to phase out all nuclear energy following the 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan.
The Brussels draft text will form part of a consultation with EU countries and independent experts that will last until 12 January. However, anti-nuclear EU governments do not have the power to veto the taxonomy, which diplomats say is likely to win majority support in the EU council.
Astrid Matthey, one of the independent experts advising the commission on the rules, criticized the concept because it “contradicts the purpose of the taxonomy”.
“The conditions under which both technologies must be included are far from ensuring that we achieve the Paris climate goals and do not cause any significant damage to the environment. “There is still a long way to go for this concept to align with the Green Deal and the EU’s environmental targets,” said Matthey.
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