EU states divided over classifying nuclear energy as ‘green’ | News | DW
Germany, Luxembourg, Portugal, Denmark and Austria voted on Thursday against classifying nuclear energy as a climate-friendly energy source.
The five countries issued a statement on the sidelines of the UN climate summit in Glasgow, COP26. It comes as the European Commission is working on a so-called EU taxonomy, in which it lists what the bloc considers “environmentally sustainable economic activities”.
Some other EU countries, led by France, are looking to add modern forms of nuclear power to this list. France, in particular, has indicated its intention to use nuclear power as part of its efforts to phase out fossil fuel power plants which are major sources of greenhouse gas emissions.
What are the opposing countries saying?
“The current decade will be crucial for our common path towards climate neutrality and an economic system that respects the limits of our planet,” Germany, Luxembourg, Portugal, Denmark and Austria said in a statement.
Therefore, it is crucial to have a European taxonomy which considers the sustainability of a form of energy “throughout its life cycle”, added the signatories, referring to the radioactive waste generated by the use of energy. nuclear energy.
They also warned that the classification could risk diverting EU funds from renewables such as wind and solar power.
“Nuclear power cannot be a solution to the climate crisis,” said German Environment Minister Svenja Schulze.
“It’s too risky, too slow and too expensive for the crucial decade in the fight against climate change,” she added.
Over the past decade, the prices of renewables have fallen dramatically compared to nuclear power
Austrian Environment Minister Leonore Gewessler also supported Germany’s position, saying: “Just because something isn’t so bad doesn’t mean it’s good.”
What about countries that support nuclear power?
France, Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic have asked the European Commission to classify nuclear power plants and nuclear waste storage facilities in the “green” category.
They also want the taxonomy to include natural gas power plants.
France announced on Tuesday that it would start building its first new nuclear reactors in decades to keep promises to cut carbon emissions.
“If we want to pay for our energy at reasonable rates and not depend on foreign countries, we must both continue to save energy and invest in the production of carbon-free energy on our soil,” said the French president. Emmanuel Macron.
What is EU taxonomy?
Compiled by the European Commission, the highly anticipated classification system is a list of “environmentally friendly economic activities”.
The Commission said the list should “create investor security, protect private investors from greenwashing, help businesses become more climate-friendly, alleviate market fragmentation and help move investments to where they are most needed. “.
If Brussels classifies nuclear as “sustainable” in the legal text, this will count as a direct recommendation to financial markets to invest in nuclear power plants.
In April 2020, the European Commission’s scientific body, the Joint Research Center, released a report that found nuclear power to be a secure, low-carbon source of energy comparable to wind and to hydropower in terms of its contribution to climate change.
Yet many environmentalists oppose nuclear power, citing the risk of nuclear fusion and the difficulty of properly disposing of nuclear waste.
fb / msh (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)