EU unveils draft green label for gas and nuclear


It aims to facilitate the financing of installations contributing to the fight against climate change. France and central European countries are calling for this text.

The European Commission unveiled, during the night from Friday to Saturday, a green labeling project for nuclear and gas power plants, which aims to facilitate the financing of installations contributing to the fight against climate change. The proposed text, debated for months and still provisional, was sent to member states on December 31, shortly before midnight, according to several sources contacted by AFP.

It sets the criteria for classifying as “durable“Investments in nuclear or gas power plants for the production of electricity, with the aim of orienting the”green finance»Towards activities contributing to the reduction of greenhouse gases.

France, which wants to relaunch its nuclear industry – a stable and carbon-free source of electricity – and central European countries, such as Poland or the Czech Republic, which must replace their highly polluting coal-fired power stations, demanded such a text. Being part of this classification allows a reduction in financing costs, which is crucial for the projects concerned and the States wishing to support them.

SEE ALSO – Should we build new nuclear power plants?

Divergences

Environmentalists oppose the recognition of gas power stations (which emit CO2) and nuclear power, due to the production of radioactive waste. And a small group of countries including Austria and Luxembourg, led by Germany, battled to exclude the atom. The Commission’s plan to include gas and nuclear in the taxonomy is “a mistake», Reacted the German Minister for the Environment, Steffi Lemke, to the Funke media group.

Nuclear technology “which can lead to devastating environmental disasters – in severe accidents – and (…) leaves behind large amounts of highly radioactive and hazardous waste, cannot be sustainableShe said. Austrian Environment Minister Leonore Gewessler also criticized the project, denouncing nuclear power as “an energy from the past“,”too expensive and too slowTo fight climate change, in a statement.

But both pro-gas and pro-nuclear agree in arguing that renewable energies (wind, solar, etc.), already labeled by the Commission, suffer from intermittent production and will not make it possible in the coming years to supply low-cost electricity whose production can be controlled.

The Brussels proposal sets conditions for the inclusion of nuclear and gas, in particular a time limit. For the construction of new atomic power plants, the projects must have obtained a building permit before 2045. Concerning the works allowing to extend the life of the existing plants, they must have been authorized before 2040. Guarantees in terms of waste treatment and dismantling of nuclear installations at the end of their life are also required.

Regarding gas, qualified as “transitional energy source“, The investments will be recognized”durable»For power plants emitting little CO2. The Commission has set drastic thresholds: less than 100 g of CO2 per kWh, a threshold unattainable with current technologies according to experts.

However, a transition period is planned: the power stations obtaining their building permit before December 31, 2030, will see this threshold raised to 270 g of CO2 per kWh on the condition of replacing existing infrastructures that are much more polluting and meet a series of criteria.

Member States and experts consulted by the Commission now have around two weeks to request changes to this document. The publication of the final text is expected in mid-January. Then, for a period of four months, the European Parliament will have the possibility of rejecting it by a simple majority vote. The European Council could theoretically also oppose it, but it would need to bring together 20 Member States, which seems out of reach.

SEE ALSO – Nuclear: what challenges for the sector?

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