BRUSSELS – The European Union’s draft plans that would allow nuclear and gas energy to continue to be part of the bloc’s path to a climate-friendly future were the subject of immediate criticism this weekend of the from environmentalists and some ruling political parties in EU member states.
In the draft conclusions consulted by the Associated Press, the EU Executive Board proposes a classification system to define what counts as an investment in sustainable energy. Under certain conditions, it would allow gas and nuclear energy to be part of the mix.
The plans would have a huge impact on nuclear economies like France and on gas-fired power plants in Germany, as they might have had to fundamentally change their strategies.
Energy consumption accounts for around three quarters of greenhouse gas emissions produced in the EU and is therefore essential to the efforts of the bloc of 27 countries to meet its commitments in the fight against global warming.
The plans still need the support of a large majority of the 27 member states and a simple majority in the European Parliament. But the initial push from the European Commission is a key part of the transition process.
“Classifying investments in gas and nuclear as sustainable is in contradiction with the Green Deal”, the EU’s initiative to make the bloc climate neutral by 2050, said Ska Keller, chairman of the Green Group in the European Parliament.
France has called for nuclear energy to be included in what is called “taxonomy” by the end of the year, leading the charge with several other EU countries that operate nuclear power plants and want to make it eligible for green funding.
French European Affairs Minister Clément Beaune said the proposal was technically sound and insisted on Sunday that the bloc “cannot become carbon neutral by 2050 without nuclear power.”
Germany, the EU’s largest economy, goes the other way, with Germany shutting down half of the six nuclear power plants it still had in operation on Friday, a year before the country pulled back the curtain final on its use of atomic energy for decades.
Gas is a polluting fossil fuel, but it is still seen by the EU as a bridge technology to achieve a cleaner energy future.
German Economy Minister Robert Habeck criticized plans to classify investments in gas and nuclear power plants as climate friendly.