The EU Commission wants to classify energy generation from natural gas and nuclear plants as climate-friendly. The construction of new nuclear power plants could then be subsidized. News ticker.
- The EU Commission wants to classify nuclear power as a green energy source – and thus meets with determined resistance in Germany and Austria (see update from January 2, 8:30 a.m.).
- Minister Habeck (Greens) was negative about the plan (see update from January 1, 2:45 p.m.).
- This news ticker is continuously updated.
Update from January 2nd, 8:30 a.m .: The EU Commission’s plans to classify nuclear power and natural gas as green energy sources are also met with strong opposition from Austria. “The EU Commission took a step towards greenwashing nuclear power and fossil gas yesterday in a night and fog action,” criticized the Austrian climate protection minister Leonore Gewessler on Saturday in Vienna. The Green politician threatened to file a lawsuit if the two energy sources were to be included in the so-called taxonomy of the EU.
“The time of publication alone shows that the EU Commission itself is obviously not convinced of its decision,” explained Gewessler. “For Austria, however, it is very clear: Neither nuclear power nor the burning of fossil natural gas have lost anything in the taxonomy.” After all, these energy sources are “harmful to the climate and the environment and destroy the future of our children”.
The Brussels authority had sent its draft regulation on the so-called taxonomy to the governments of the 27 EU member states on New Year’s Eve (see first report). Gewessler announced that the government in Vienna would “examine the text carefully in the coming days”. Accordingly, she has already commissioned a comprehensive legal opinion from the renowned law firm Redeker Sellner Dahs on nuclear power in taxonomy.
“With that in our luggage, we will not shy away from taking legal action against the planned taxonomy ordinance,” assured Gewessler. If the Commission actually implements these plans, Austria will sue. “Because nuclear power is a technology of the past, whose danger to humans and the environment has been clearly documented,” argued the minister. “It is too expensive and too slow to help us fight the climate crisis. It has no future. “
Habeck: “The proposals of the EU Commission dilute the good label for sustainability”
Update from January 1st, 2:45 p.m .: Federal Economics Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) has expressed his rejection of the EU Commission’s plan to classify investments in gas and nuclear power plants as climate-friendly under certain conditions. “The EU Commission’s proposals dilute the good label for sustainability,” Habeck told the German Press Agency in Berlin on Saturday. “From our point of view, it would not have needed this addition to the taxonomy rules. We do not see any approval of the new proposals of the EU Commission, ”said the Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Protection.
Habeck criticized: “Labeling nuclear energy of all things as sustainable is wrong with this high-risk technology.” This obscures the view of the long-term effects of nuclear waste on people and the environment. Hard security criteria are also not provided. “That is more than questionable,” said Habeck. “In any case, it is questionable whether this greenwashing will even find acceptance on the financial market,” he emphasized. The federal government will evaluate the Commission’s draft for its effects.
Federal Environment Minister Steffi Lemke made a similar statement: “I think it is absolutely wrong that the European Commission intends to include nuclear power in the EU taxonomy for sustainable economic activities,” Lemke told the newspapers of the Funke media group on Saturday. A form of energy that could lead to “devastating environmental disasters” and leave behind large amounts of dangerous, highly radioactive waste, “cannot be sustainable”
First report from January 1, 2022, 2:15 p.m.:
Brussels – The construction of new nuclear power plants could be funded in the future. Permits issued for new nuclear power plants by 2045 are to come under the so-called taxonomy ordinance in the future. This emerges from a draft regulation of the EU Commission, which the AFP news agency received on Saturday. For new gas infrastructure, the subsidy should therefore apply until 2030 under certain conditions.
Draft paper from Brussels: “Gas and nuclear energy contribute to decarbonization”
The taxonomy is a kind of classification of sustainable economic activities and is equivalent to a classification as worthy of funding and a recommendation to investors. The EU Commission had already presented the corresponding legal act in April. At the time, however, the authority left out the delicate question of assessing gas and nuclear energy. We should await further expert reports and evaluations.
“It must be recognized that the fossil gas and nuclear energy sectors can contribute to the decarbonisation of the Union’s economy,” the Brussels draft paper now reads. The Commission has not yet officially presented the proposal. According to information from Brussels and Berlin circles, the draft was sent to the governments of the 27 member states on New Year’s Eve shortly before midnight for a consultation process.
According to the document, the “construction and safe operation of new nuclear power plants to generate electricity or heat, including hydrogen generation, using the best available technologies” should be considered taxonomy-compliant, i.e. sustainable and climate-friendly. Further requirements are provided for the long-term handling of radioactive waste, for example.
This is how the European countries stand for the Brussels push
France in particular is urgently pushing for nuclear power to be classified as sustainable. Poland and other eastern countries are also urging the EU Commission to recognize nuclear power as climate-friendly. On the other hand, only a minority of the EU countries – Germany, Austria and Luxembourg – have so far taken a decision.
According to the draft, stricter rules are provided for the eligibility of new gas systems. For example, the new systems in question must always replace an old system that uses fossil fuels. It should also be demonstrated that the planned energy production could not also be achieved with a renewable energy source.
Greens warn of “renaissance of nuclear power in Europe”
The previous federal government had insisted on the importance of natural gas as a transition technology towards climate neutrality. New Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s SPD continues to adhere to this. However, criticism has come from the ranks of the green coalition partner. On the other hand, there is broad agreement on the rejection of the classification of nuclear power as sustainable. Federal Environment Minister Steffi Lemke (Greens) warned a few days ago with sharp words of a renaissance of nuclear power in Europe.
The consultation process that has now begun with the EU member states is expected to take around two weeks. In mid-January, the Commission will then present the final proposal, which may differ from the draft that has now become known. Subsequently, the Council of Member States and the EU Parliament each have a right of veto. Resistance is already rising in the EU Parliament: “The proposal by Commission President Ursula von der Leyen is a step backwards,” criticized the Green MEP Rasmus Andresen. “Atom and fossil gas are not sustainable.”
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