Expert group criticizes EU plans for “green” nuclear power

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Experts criticize conditions under which investments in gas power plants should be considered climate-friendly. © Julian Stratenschulte/dpa

Investments in nuclear power and gas could soon be considered climate-friendly – that’s what the EU Commission is planning. A panel of experts made up of scientists and companies is now speaking up.

Brussels – A group of selected climate experts and companies has sharply criticized the EU plans to classify gas and nuclear power as climate-friendly.

This emerges from a statement by the so-called Platform for Sustainable Finance on a corresponding proposal by the EU Commission, which was published. “The Commission must listen to the scientific community and drop its proposal,” said WWF’s Sebastien Godinot. “Fossil gas generates a lot of emissions and nuclear power produces highly radioactive waste that we still can’t deal with.”

The platform includes environmental organizations, scientists and companies such as Airbus. They advise the Commission on the creation of the so-called taxonomy – a kind of catalog for climate-friendly investments that is intended to boost climate change.

Specifically, the experts criticize the conditions under which investments in gas-fired power plants should be considered climate-friendly. The Commission proposes to label new gas-fired power plants as “green” by 2030 if they have total emissions of up to 550 grams of carbon dioxide (CO2) per kilowatt hour. The experts are calling for the limit to be lowered to 100 grams of CO2 per kilowatt hour – the neutral limit that applies to all other technologies.

Nuclear power should not be included in the taxonomy because of possible “significant damage” to the environment, the statement said. The Commission had proposed classifying new nuclear power plants as sustainable if there is a concrete plan for the disposal of radioactive waste by 2050. However, the experts criticize that it is unclear how the proposed criteria for nuclear power and gas will be checked.

The existing green taxonomy was not originally intended for transitional technologies, the report says. The platform is currently working on an “amber” category for the taxonomy. “Labeling gas as green would undermine the whole taxonomy initiative,” said Mathilde Crêpy from the organization ECOS, which is part of the platform, to the dpa. “That’s going to make it very difficult for investors to really ensure that their investments are ‘green’ and actually sustainable.”

Based on its draft and feedback from experts and EU countries, the Commission intends to present the official text on nuclear power and gas “as soon as possible”. dpa

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