Home Energy assets EU prepares plan to label gas and nuclear investments as green

EU prepares plan to label gas and nuclear investments as green


Steam rises from the cooling towers of the Electricité de France (EDF) nuclear power plant in Belleville-sur-Loire, France, October 12, 2021. REUTERS / Benoit Tessier

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  • European Commission draws up green investment rules
  • The draft proposal qualifies nuclear and certain gas-fired power stations as green
  • Countries disagree on green fuel benchmarks
  • EU advisers say gas is incompatible with climate goals

Jan. 1 (Reuters) – The European Union has drawn up plans to label some natural gas and nuclear energy projects as “green” investments after a year-long battle between governments for genuinely climate-friendly investments.

The European Commission is expected to propose rules in January to decide whether gas and nuclear projects will be included in the EU’s “sustainable finance taxonomy”.

This is a list of economic activities and the environmental criteria they must meet in order to be labeled green investments.

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By limiting the “green” label to truly climate-friendly projects, the system aims to make these investments more attractive to private capital and to put an end to “greenwashing”, where companies or investors exaggerate their ecological credentials.

Brussels has also taken steps to apply the system to certain EU funding, meaning the rules could decide which projects are eligible for certain public funding.

A draft Commission proposal, seen by Reuters, would classify investments in nuclear power plants as green if the project has a plan, funds and a site to safely dispose of radioactive waste. To be considered green, new nuclear power plants must receive building permits before 2045.

Investments in natural gas power plants would also be considered green if they produce emissions of less than 270g CO2 equivalent per kilowatt hour (kWh), replace a more polluting fossil fuel power plant, receive a building permit by here on December 31, 2030 and plan to switch to low-carbon dioxide emissions by the end of 2035.

Nuclear gas and electricity production would be labeled green on the grounds that they are “bridging” activities – defined as those that are not fully sustainable, but have lower than the US average emissions. industry and do not block polluting assets.

“Taking into account current scientific advice and technological progress as well as the various transition challenges between Member States, the Commission considers that natural gas and nuclear power have a role to play in facilitating the transition towards a future mainly based on energy renewable, ”the European Commission said in a statement.

To help states with varying energy profiles make the transition, “under certain conditions, solutions may make sense that may not seem exactly ‘green’ at first glance,” a Commission source told Reuters, adding that the investments in gas and nuclear would be subject to “strict conditions”. .

EU countries and a panel of experts will review the draft proposal, which could change before its scheduled publication later in January. Once published, it could be vetoed by a majority of EU countries or the European Parliament.

Politics has been mired in government lobbying for over a year and EU countries disagree on truly sustainable fuels.

Natural gas emits about half of the CO2 emissions of coal when it is burned in power plants, but gas infrastructure is also associated with leaks of methane, a powerful gas that warms the planet.

EU advisers had recommended that gas plants not qualify as green investments unless they achieve a lower emission limit of 100g CO2e / kWh, based on reductions in significant emissions that scientists believe are necessary to avoid disastrous climate change.

Nuclear power produces very low CO2 emissions, but the Commission this year sought expert opinion on whether the fuel should be considered green given the potential environmental impact of disposal radioactive waste.

Some environmental activists and EU green lawmakers have criticized the leaked gas and nuclear proposal.

“By including them … the Commission risks compromising the credibility of the EU’s role as a leading marketplace for sustainable finance,” said Greens President Philippe Lamberts.

Austria is opposed to nuclear power, alongside countries like Germany and Luxembourg. EU states, including the Czech Republic, Finland and France, which derive around 70% of their electricity from fuel, see nuclear as key to phasing out CO2-emitting coal.

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Reporting by Kate Abnett; Additional reporting by Sabine Siebold; Editing by Frances Kerry and Louise Heavens

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