Germany, Austria and Luxembourg denounced Brussels’ plan to classify nuclear energy as a sustainable technology in the EU’s historic labeling system for green investments, which is at the heart of European decarbonization plans of the bloc’s economy.
German Economy Minister Robert Habeck, who is a member of the Green Party in the country’s governing coalition, said: “It is doubtful that this greenwashing will even be accepted in the financial market. He told German news agency DPA on Saturday: “In our opinion, this addition to the taxonomy rules was not necessary.
The Brussels proposal is part of a so-called “taxonomy” list, which aims to help channel the billions of euros of investment needed to decarbonize the bloc’s economy.
The plan, the first attempt by a leading regulator to clear up investors looking to invest private capital in sustainable economic activity, covers around 80% of the bloc’s emissions and is intended to be a “gold standard” for the markets decide what is really green and what is not.
But the process has been hampered by fierce internal political disputes within the European Commission and its member states.
Leonore Gewessler, Austria’s Climate and Energy Minister, said on Saturday that Vienna would consider suing the European Commission if the classification of nuclear power as green goes ahead. Claude Turmes, Luxembourg Minister for Energy, for his part called the inclusion of nuclear power a “provocation”.
The inclusion of nuclear power is widely seen as a victory for the French government which has urged Brussels to ensure that the new rules do not punish 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 depend on gas imports into southern and eastern Europe will support the initiative.
The inclusion of gas is also supported by German Finance Minister Christian Lindner, who is the leader of the Liberal Party in the ruling coalition. The draft proposal states that gas can be considered sustainable under certain conditions, such as for new gas-fired power plants approved before the end of 2030 that emit less than 270g of CO2 per kilowatt hour and whether they replace traditional fossil fuels such as the coal.
“Germany really needs modern gas-fired power plants as a bridging technology because we are moving away from coal and nuclear power,” Lindner told the Süddeutsche Zeitung on Sunday. “I am grateful that the arguments seem to have been echoed by the commission.”
Three German nuclear power plants were decommissioned at the end of 2021, with the country’s three other facilities due to be decommissioned within a year as part of a pledge to phase out all nuclear power following the 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan.
The Brussels draft text will be part of a consultation with EU countries and independent experts that will run until January 12. However, the EU’s anti-nuclear governments lack the power to veto taxonomy, which diplomats say should gain majority support in the EU Council.
Astrid Matthey, one of the independent experts advising the rules commission, criticized the project for “contradicting the very purpose of taxonomy.”
“The conditions under which the two technologies must be included are far from ensuring that we meet the Paris climate targets and that we do not significantly harm the environment. There is still a long way to go for this project to align with the Green Deal and the EU’s environmental goals, ”said Matthey.
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