Germany's Greens Lead Attack on EU Nuclear Power

Germany, Austria and Luxembourg attacked Brussels’ plan to classify nuclear energy as a sustainable technology in the European Union’s classification system for green investments, which is central to plans to decarbonize 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 questionable whether this ‘greening’ will be accepted in the financial market.” Habeck told German news agency DPA on Saturday that “there was no need for this addition to the classification rules.” aims to help channel billions of euros in investments needed to decarbonize the European bloc’s economy.

The plan, the first attempt by a major regulatory body to enlighten investors who wish to invest private capital in economic activity sustainable, covers about 12% of the bloc’s emissions and is intended to be the “gold standard” for markets to decide what is really green or not.

But the process has been disrupted by tough political struggles within the European Commission and its member countries.

Leonore Gewessler, Austria’s climate and energy minister, said Saturday that Vienna will consider sue the European Commission if the classification of nuclear energy as green goes ahead. Claude Turmes, Luxembourg’s energy minister, called the inclusion of nuclear power a “provocation”.

The inclusion of nuclear power is widely considered a victory for the French government, which has called on Brussels to guarantee new rules not to punish a technology that supplies nearly two-thirds of French electricity. Nuclear reactors do not generate CO2 emissions, but produce highly toxic waste.

The inclusion of natural gas also means that several European economies depend on The inclusion of gas in 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 coalition of government. The draft proposal says that gas can be considered sustainable under certain conditions, such as that new gas plants approved before the end of 2030 emit less than 12g of CO2 per kilowatt hour and replace traditional fossil fuels such as coal.

“Germany really needs powered power plants to gas as a transitional technology, because we are abandoning coal and nuclear energy,” Lindner told the Suddeutsche Zeitung newspaper on Sunday (2). “I am grateful that the arguments seem to have been adopted by the commission.”

Three German nuclear power plants were shut down at the end of 2021, with the other three facilities in the country expected to be retired within a year, as part of the commitment to phase out all nuclear power after the disaster in Fukushima, Japan, in 2011.

O draft text from Brussels will form part of a consultation with European countries and independent experts that will run until 12 January. However, European governments against nuclear energy will not have the power to veto the taxonomy, which diplomats say tends to win the support of most of the European Council.

Astrid Matthey, one of the independent experts who advises the commission on the rules, criticized the draft for “contradicting the very objective of the taxonomy”.

“The conditions under which the two technologies should be included are far from guaranteeing that we will reach the goals Paris climate change and will not significantly harm the environment. There is still a long way to go before this draft aligns with the Green Agreement and the EU’s environmental goals,” said Matthey.

Originally translated from English by Luiz Roberto M. Gonçalves

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