How nuclear got in the EU Taxonomy

BerlinTaxonomyProtest_Leonhard Lenz_WikiM

An update from Günter Wippel,

The EU Taxonomy is a classification scheme created by the European Union to label certain activities and investments in those activities as ‘sustainable’.

The attempt of the European Commission to put nuclear power generation as well as (fossil) gas into the category of ‘sustainable’ investments was extremely controversial within the European Parliament (EP) and in civil society at large.

Major activities opposing this were launched by environmental and other concerned civil society organisations.

The EP’s Environmental as well as the Economic Committee (ENVI and ECON) decided against this proposal to label nuclear and gas as ‘sustainable’ on 16. June 2022. The EP’s own Platform on Sustainable Finance had slammed the suggestion already in January this year.

Pro-nuclear countries, with France leading, aggressively lobbied for the inclusion of nuclear and gas into the EU Taxonomy.

Unfortunately, at the final vote on 6. July 2022, a majority within the EP voted in favor of including nuclear energy and gas into the EU Taxonomy. It is a major setback in regard to climate change issues, the Paris goals etc.

278 MEPs voted against the so-called ‘delegated act’ (to include nuclear power and gas into the EU Taxonomy), 350 votes would have been needed to dismiss nuclear and gas.

Many comments in newspapers and online state that this decision basically ‘destroys’ the credibility of the EU Taxonomy since now ALL forms of power generation are labeled as sustainable – which makes the Taxonomy useless.

The German conservative party (“EVP”) was split over the issue, a majority of (German) conservatives voted against the inclusion of nuclear and gas into the Taxonomy. However, Eastern states strongly were in favor of nuclear power, adding to France’s votes.

Currently, half of France’s aging nuclear power plants are out of operation, either due to technical problems, low water in the rivers used for cooling etc. To fill the gap, Germany supplies (sells) electricity from its renewables to France.

For the future, it remains to be seen whether Austria and Luxemburg will take the European Commission to court over this decision. Corresponding legal expert opinions are already available.

Headline photo of Taxonomy protest in Berlin by Leonhard Lenz/Wikimedia Commons.

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