B.and Environment Minister Steffi Lemke (Greens) rejects the EU Commission’s plan to classify energy generation from nuclear power plants as sustainable. “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. A form of energy that could lead to “devastating environmental disasters” and leave behind large amounts of dangerous, highly radioactive waste “cannot be sustainable”.
Federal Minister of Economics Robert Habeck (Greens) also expressed his disapproval of the EU Commission’s plans. “The proposals of the EU Commission dilute the good label for sustainability,” said Habeck of the German press agency. “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 complained that labeling nuclear energy as sustainable was “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.
The plans are also met with determined opposition from the government in 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”.
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 the minister.
Time until January 12th
On New Year’s Day, the EU Commission presented a draft for sustainability criteria for investments. Accordingly, investments in new batteries should be classified as green if the systems meet the latest technical standards and if a specific plan for the operation of a disposal facility for high-level radioactive waste is presented by 2050 at the latest. Another condition is that the new nuclear facilities receive a building permit by 2045.
Investments in new gas-fired power plants should also be able to be classified as green temporarily under strict conditions. For example, it should be relevant how many greenhouse gases are emitted. For plants that are approved after December 31, 2030, according to the proposal, only up to 100 grams of so-called CO2 equivalents per kilowatt hour of energy would be allowed – calculated over the life cycle.
The classification of economic activities by the EU Commission is intended to enable investors to switch their investments to more sustainable technologies and companies and thus make a significant contribution to Europe’s climate neutrality by 2050. However, whether gas and nuclear power should be considered climate-friendly as part of the so-called taxonomy is highly controversial among EU countries.
For countries like France, nuclear power is a key technology for a carbon-free economy. Germany, on the other hand, is against taking up nuclear power, but sees electricity generation from gas as a necessary transition technology towards climate neutrality.
The EU member states now have until January 12 to comment on the draft of the legal act sent by the EU Commission late on Friday evening. Implementation can only be prevented if a qualified majority of the member states oppose it. According to this, at least 15 EU countries would have to unite, which represent at least 65 percent of the total population of the EU.
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