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Brussels wants to classify gas and nuclear energy as environmentally friendly

Brussels wants to classify gas and nuclear energy as environmentally friendly

The EU Commission wants to classify investments in gas and nuclear power plants as climate-friendly under certain conditions. This stems from a draft legal act issued by the Brussels Authority, which was published on New Year’s Day shortly after it was sent to the EU member states. Criticism of the proposal came from Austria and Germany as well as from environmental organizations.

Specifically, the EU Commission draft states that planned investments in new nuclear power plants, especially in France, can be classified as green if the plants meet the latest technical standards and if there is a specific plan to operate a disposal plant that is introduced to high radioactive waste. level by 2050 at the latest. Another condition is that the new nuclear facilities receive a building permit by 2045, as evidenced by the text available to the German News Agency (dpa).

Investments in new gas-fired power plants should also be classified as green temporarily, particularly at the request of Germany. For example, the number of greenhouse gases emitted should be closely related. For plants approved after December 31, 2030, according to the proposal, only up to 100 grams of so-called carbon dioxide equivalents per kilowatt-hour of energy – calculated over the life cycle – will be allowed.

The Classification of Economic Activities by the European Union Commission aims to enable investors to shift their investments to more sustainable technologies and companies, thus making a significant contribution to Europe’s climate neutrality by 2050. However, whether gas and nuclear energy should be considered climate-friendly as part of the so-called The classification is highly controversial among EU countries. Austria and Germany, for example, are against the use of nuclear energy. For countries like France, on the other hand, nuclear power is an essential technology for a carbon-neutral economy.

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The project was sharply criticized on Saturday by Climate Protection Minister Leonor Goesler (The Greens) among others. “Yesterday, the EU Commission took a step towards the greenwashing of nuclear energy and fossil gas in a foggy night and work. The time of publication alone shows that the EU Commission itself is clearly not convinced of its decision,” the minister said in a statement sent. to the APA. But for Austria, it is very clear: “Neither nuclear power nor the burning of fossil natural gas has lost anything in the rating. Because it harms the climate, the environment and destroys the future of our children.” The draft will be carefully examined in the coming days, and no one will hesitate to take legal action against the planned regulation.

Finance Minister Magnus Brunner (ÖVP) also lamented. “We have always emphasized that nuclear energy in our view is not a sustainable form of energy and should not be included in the rating list.” The EU’s approach underscores that “the proposals in the direction of green exemptions from debt rules could lead to the financing of more nuclear energy. For us this is another reason to reject this proposal,” Brunner said in response.

Criticism also came from the FPÖ party. The European Union is setting a “questionable mark ten years after the nuclear disaster in Fukushima”, and liberal MEP George Mayer has criticized and called for solidarity across party lines to classify nuclear energy as environmental in the EU Parliament by all means to prevent sustainability.

German government officials also expressed their disapproval. “From our point of view, this addition to the classification rules was not needed,” said the German Minister for Economic Affairs and Climate Protection, Robert Habeck (Greenz). Classifying nuclear energy as sustainable is wrong with “this high-risk technology”. Such a move obscures long-term effects on humans and the environment, and highly radioactive nuclear waste will pollute the European Union for centuries.

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German Environment Minister Steffi Lemke (the Greens) made a similar statement. “I think it is absolutely wrong that the European Commission intends to include nuclear energy in the EU’s classification of sustainable economic activities,” she told Funke Media Group newspapers (online Saturday / Monday print).

Environmental protection organization WWF Austria also criticized it on Saturday, saying: “Just a few weeks after the COP26 climate conference, the European Union Commission sacrifices its leadership role in climate policy for the interests of the nuclear and gas lobby. This could lead to billions of euros pouring into harmful industries. and killer industries. Producing a closed effect is taking Europe away from the 1.5-degree target,” Jacob Meyer, WWF expert for sustainable financing, explained in a press release.

The NGO atomstopp_oberoesterreich asserted that including nuclear energy in the classification list is “a primary mistake in climate policy; nuclear energy is not a solution to climate change, but part of the problem”.

GLOBAL atomic spokeswoman Patricia Lorenz criticized: “There have been concerns about atomic New Year’s baby – in the hope the draft will get lost in the New Year’s festivities, the EU Commission published a draft sustainability rating yesterday just before midnight.” 2000. “As a precaution, the public has been completely excluded from the consultations to which it was entitled; only the European Parliament and Member States can now have a say. We therefore call on Member States to prevent attempts at the greenwashing of nuclear energy.”

EU member states have until January 12 to comment on the draft legal law sent out by the EU Commission late Friday night. According to information released on Saturday, the implementation can only be prevented if the so-called reinforced qualified majority of member states or a majority in the EU parliament speak against it. Accordingly, at least 20 EU member states will have to meet in the EU Council, representing at least 65 percent of the total EU population or at least 353 members of the EU Parliament.

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This is unlikely to happen, because, besides Austria and Germany, only countries such as Luxembourg, Denmark and Portugal are clearly against the use of nuclear energy. “We do not see any approval of the proposals of the new EU Commission,” Habeck announced on Saturday. There was no mention of any dealings with the committee’s proposal.