Green taxonomy: nuclear is “neither sustainable nor economical”, says Berlin
Nuclear, which generates waste, is not a “sustainable” or “economical” energy, German Secretary of State for the Environment Stefan Tidow said on Thursday, Berlin opposing Paris on the inclusion of the atom in the European taxonomy, the list of “green” investments.
“It is not green energy, nor sustainable. The question of waste management is not resolved: it is not economic either”, affirmed Mr. Tidow in front of the French Minister for Ecological Transition Barbara Pompili, on his arrival in Amiens in northern France for a meeting of European environment ministers.
Berlin is fiercely opposed to the inclusion of nuclear power in the green labeling project (“taxonomy”) unveiled at the end of December by the European Commission. Member states have until Friday to request changes before the final text is published. “We will first make it clear that we find it difficult to include nuclear energy. Then the Commission will make its (final) proposal. This is when we will position ourselves (for the rest of the process), we will react”, explained Stefan Tidow.
Questioned on Thursday, a spokesperson for the European executive refused to specify the timetable for the publication of the final text: “What is absolutely clear is that the Commission does not intend to play the extensions in any way. We are working hard to reach a decision as quickly as possible”, he, however, indicated during a press conference.
The Commission’s final text will be considered definitively adopted four months after its publication unless rejected by a simple majority in the European Parliament or by a qualified majority of the States (i.e. 20 States, which seems out of reach). The document sets the criteria for classifying as “sustainable” investments in nuclear and gas power plants, with the aim of directing private investments towards activities contributing to the reduction of greenhouse gases.
France, faced with a wall of investment to relaunch its nuclear sector (stable and low-carbon energy source), and central European countries, such as Poland, which must replace their highly polluting coal-fired power stations with gas, support the proposal on the table. “The Commission has presented a text of balance, of compromise. Obviously, some countries have points (of disagreement), that will be the subject of discussions, we will do a good job together”, commented Amiens Barbara Pompili, while Paris has occupied the rotating presidency of the EU since January. “I don’t think this subject weighs on Franco-German relations. We each have our particular interests, that’s normal,” added Mr. Tidow.
A few countries, Austria, Luxembourg, and Germany in the lead, have fought fiercely to exclude the atom, Vienna denouncing in particular “too expensive and too slow energy” to counter climate change and being alarmed at the management of the waste generated. “Nuclear energy is carbon-free energy. We cannot do without it at a time when we must very quickly reduce our emissions”, replied Barbara Pompili on Thursday, recalling that renewable energies are intermittent and therefore cannot guarantee on their own a continuous supply of electricity. “When we have the storage solutions – especially with hydrogen, for example, but not only – the question could arise differently”, she observed.