EU Commission wants to classify gas and nuclear energy as climate-friendly – WELT

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EU Commission wants to classify gas and nuclear energy as climate-friendly

EU wants to classify gas and nuclear power as climate-friendly

At the end of 2021, three nuclear power plants were taken off the grid in Germany. But in Europe the plans for nuclear energy are different. The EU wants to classify gas and nuclear power as climate-friendly.

According to a draft regulation of the EU Commission, permits issued by 2045 for new nuclear power plants should be eligible for funding. The final decision will be made in two weeks. Criticism comes from the Federal Environment Minister and the German Environmental Aid.

Dhe EU Commission wants to classify energy generation from natural gas and nuclear plants as climate-friendly. According to a draft ordinance by the Brussels authority, permits issued for new nuclear power plants should come under the so-called taxonomy ordinance by 2045 and construction should be subsidized accordingly. For new gas infrastructure, this should apply under certain conditions until 2030.

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.

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“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.

Federal government opposes plans by the EU Commission

The Green Ministers Robert Habeck and Steffi Lemke criticized the plans. Federal Minister of Economics Habeck (Greens) said: “The proposals of the EU Commission dilute the good label for sustainability.” These taxonomy rules would not have needed: “We do not see approval of the new proposals of the EU Commission,” he added.

Federal Environment Minister Lemke called the initiative “absolutely wrong”. She told the Funke media group: “A form of energy that on the one hand can lead to devastating environmental disasters – in the event of serious reactor accidents – and on the other hand leaves behind large amounts of dangerous, highly radioactive waste cannot be sustainable.”

There was also criticism of the EU plans from the Greens. “Atomic energy is neither green nor sustainable, it is highly risky,” said parliamentary group leader Katharina Dröge of the AFP news agency. “It is wrong to include them in the taxonomy. Instead of watering down the label for sustainability, the course must be set for renewable energies – and not for yesterday’s technology. The new proposal of the Commission cannot be approved like that. “

The German Environmental Aid (DUH) reacted indignantly. This would “enable environmentally harmful investments under a green guise,” warned the organization. The EU member states and the European Parliament would have to take a clear position against this project.

France and Poland are pushing

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.

Inflation: Rising prices for gas and energy

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.

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Oliver Krischer (Greens) is State Secretary for Energy in the Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Protection of his party friend Robert Habeck

The previous federal government had insisted on the importance of natural gas as a transition technology towards climate neutrality. Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s SPD is sticking to it. 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.

Final decision in two weeks

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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EU Commission wants to classify gas and nuclear energy as climate-friendly – WELT