Germany denounces Brussels plan to qualify nuclear and gas as “green” – POLITICO
The German government on Saturday criticized the European Commission’s plan to include nuclear power and natural gas in its long-awaited green labeling scheme for investments in the energy sector.
Economy and Climate Protection Minister Robert Habeck and Environment Minister Steffi Lemke, both from the Green Party, strongly criticized the Commission’s initiative, and Habeck – who is also deputy German Chancellor – said Berlin could not support the proposed project.
The controversial push by the Commission is part of the so-called ‘taxonomy’ list, which will be crucial in channeling billions of euros of investment into the technologies needed to build clean power plants and decarbonize the bloc’s economy.
A draft delegated act, sent to EU countries on Friday, says “there is a need to recognize that the fossil gas and nuclear energy sectors can contribute to the decarbonisation of the Union’s economy “. POLITICO obtained a copy of the draft text.
The draft taxonomy states that nuclear power plants should be considered “sustainable” if the host country can guarantee that they do not cause “significant damage” to the environment, which includes the safe disposal of nuclear waste. This applies to all “new nuclear installations for which the building permit has been issued by 2045”, specifies the text.
Natural gas may also qualify for the green label for a limited period of time, making it easier for natural gas producers to attract private investment – provided certain criteria such as a carbon dioxide emission level of 270 g of CO2 per kilowatt generated are filled, the text indicates. .
EU countries and the European Parliament now have the opportunity to influence the draft delegated act with comments or suggestions before a final decision is taken – likely early this year.
But Habeck told German news agency dpa on Saturday that the Commission’s proposal “weakens the right label for sustainability”.
He added: “From our point of view, he would not have needed this addition to the rules of taxonomy. We do not see approval of the new proposals.
Habeck said it was doubtful that “this greenwashing” would be accepted by financial markets.
Environment Minister Lemke was even more direct in her criticisms. “I think it is absolutely wrong that the European Commission intends to include nuclear energy in the EU taxonomy for sustainable economic activities,” Lemke told media group Funke. She argued that nuclear power could lead to devastating environmental disasters and leave behind large amounts of hazardous high-level radioactive waste, and therefore “cannot be sustainable.”
Countries like France and Poland have been pushing for the inclusion of nuclear power in the taxonomy list because they argue that it is a crucial low carbon technology that is needed to ensure the energy security as the EU shifts to renewables in the decades to come.
Along with Germany, other countries such as Austria and Luxembourg are fiercely opposed to such an approach because of concerns about accidents and nuclear waste. They would like nuclear energy to disappear from the EU instead of encouraging the construction of new plants through the green label.
Proponents of natural gas argue that it is cleaner than coal and should be used as a transitional fuel, but opponents believe it undermines the EU’s green goals.
Germany’s opposition previously delayed the presentation of the taxonomy project, which was originally scheduled for early this year.
The Commission’s text is particularly problematic for the German Greens, who are part of the country’s new government coalition led by Social Democratic Chancellor Olaf Scholz. The Greens have long been opponents of nuclear energy.
“The proposal by Commission President Ursula von der Leyen is a step backwards. Its credibility in climate policy has suffered serious cracks, ”said Rasmus Andresen, a German Green MEP.
“Nuclear and fossil gas are not sustainable. There are more realistic and better alternatives to making Europe climate neutral. Von der Leyen’s proposal creates the wrong incentives for investors, ”said Andresen, warning that the taxonomy regulation risks becoming a“ greenwashing ”tool.
Zia Weise contributed reporting. This story has been updated to include the reaction of the German government and correct the time frame within which a final decision on the proposal is expected.