The environmentalists are shouting for victory, much to the despair of the proponents of nuclear power. “The European Parliament committees on environment and economy reject the inclusion of gas and nuclear energy in the European taxonomy! Yes! »rejoices Yannick Jadot, this Tuesday, June 14th.
Climate victory: Environment and economy committees of the European Parliament reject the inclusion of gas and nuclear energy in #taxonomy European! Yes!
Renewable energy sources are the only energy of the future for the climate and the world!
— Yannick Jadot (@yjadot) June 14, 2022
For several months, there has been a battle in the Community institutions over this crucial item of the Green Deal for Europe, which should lead the EU to carbon neutrality by 2050. This “taxonomy” should define which activities will be considered “sustainable” and to which private investment will be directed.
Decisive vote in July
An alliance has just been formed in the European Parliament to block this text submitted by the European Commission, which for now includes nuclear power and gas. This coalition brings together deputies from across the political spectrum: centrists from Refresh Europe (where elected representatives of the LREM sit), the Greens, Socialists and Democrats (S&D), the Left Group and the right-wing elected representatives of the European People’s Party (EPP). At the committee meeting on Tuesday, June 14, these MPs voted overwhelmingly against the inclusion of gas and nuclear energy in the taxonomy, with 76 votes in favour, 62 against and 4 abstentions.
READ ALSO: Nuclear industry: in Brussels, Germany wants to get the skin of the atom
“This does not mean that in the coming years we will not need gas and nuclear energy”, said Christoph Hansen, a Luxembourg MP for the European People’s Party (EPP) who opposes their inclusion, in an interview with Euractiv. ” But we simply believe that sustainable funding should not be abused or whitewashed for this.”, continued the Luxembourger, whose country imports most of its electricity, in particular from Germany, where it is mainly produced from coal. Particularly polluting production method.
READ ALSO: Nuclear industry: voting against “taxonomy”, Germany sticks a knife in the back of Paris
This vote is not enough to block the Commission’s project. The resolution, adopted on Tuesday, should be the subject of a new debate in the European Parliament at its plenary session from 4 to 7 July. If the absolute majority of MEPs, that is, 353 elected, oppose the proposal of the Commission, the latter will have to withdraw or change its text. It should be noted that there are strong divisions within parliamentary groups, and in particular Refresh Europe, the EPP and the left, which is in danger of being broken by this vote. Therefore, at the moment, its outcome is unclear.
Pressure from France
In the context of the energy transition, debate rages on whether nuclear and gas power should be considered as activities “contributing to climate change mitigation”. First, in April 2021, the European Commission presented a draft excluding them. Under pressure from some states, including France, at the end of December 2021, the Commission proposed a new version that combines nuclear and gas energy into “green” activities.
In March of the same year, a report from the Joint Research Center commissioned by the European Commission showed that its analysis “not to disclose scientific evidence that nuclear power would be more harmful to health or the environment than other forms of electricity generation already included in the taxonomy”.
READ ALSO: Nuclear: France’s secret war for independence
However, the Commission has made reservations, indicating that this inclusion will be limited in time and will be subject to transparency requirements. A compromise that has angered some environmentalists who denounce the misuse of the green investment concept and advocate a switch to renewable energy. The war in Ukraine has exacerbated these divisions, especially over gas, of which Russia is the main supplier. Some voices are heard for the final elimination of gas from the taxonomy, and not for the support of the country of Vladimir Putin.
opposition from Germany
The French government is betting on nuclear power to make the energy transition and strengthen its independence. After years of hesitation, Emmanuel Macron announced the construction of six new next-generation EPR nuclear reactors by 2050. Eight more are planned, as well as smaller modular reactors.
READ ALSO: It took Macron a whole mandate to understand the interests of nuclear energy
In total, the president provides “Large-scale public funding of tens of billions of euros”. Hence the government’s interest in having nuclear energy included in the taxonomy, even if the European Parliament indicates that “Member States remain free to choose their energy balance”.
In May, Context media reported that Germany would also oppose the taxonomy project. But even if it is supported by other countries, including Luxembourg, Austria and Denmark, this is not enough to cancel the text. Thus, the fate of the Commission’s project is in the hands of MEPs.