Thursday, March 23

Nuclear and natural gas, “green” energies: Europe surrenders in order to maintain its climate objectives

Nuclear energy and natural gas will be considered “green energy”. This has been approved by the European Parliament, after a vote where the objection that asked not to include them has been rejected. In other words, Europe has voted to continue with the initial proposal of the green taxonomy that includes nuclear and gas. A proposal that had countries like Spain, Holland or Luxembourg against it.

Nuclear and gas will be included in the fight against climate change. The objective of the European Union for 2050 is to eliminate all CO2 emissions. It seems clear that renewables are the main bet, but the truth is that without nuclear and natural gas it will be much more difficult to achieve that goal. Driven by the current situation with Russia, the European institutions have advocated including these two energies in the “green energy” package, in order to be able to maintain their objectives.

There is fine print. The Parliament explains that “the inclusion of certain gas and nuclear activities has a time limit and depends on specific conditions and transparency requirements”. Not all nuclear or gas will be counted as green, but those that meet a series of conditions will.

An issue dividing Europe. Contrary to other measures, in this case the European Parliament has clearly reflected the great division that this measure generates. 328 MEPs have voted against (ie, in favor of including them), while 278 have voted in favor (ie, excluding them). To which must be added 33 abstentions. The issue that created the most divisions has finally been decided, by the least, in favor of their inclusion. If there are no objections before the end of the week, from January 1, 2023 it will automatically take effect.

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The war with Russia has accelerated this decision. When the European Commission proposed this change in the green taxonomy on February 2, the invasion of Ukraine had not yet occurred. These last few months have accelerated the position of multiple groups. The energy crisis in Europe has worsened especially in this time and many countries have experienced the difficulty of continuing solely with renewable energies. It is not just that France has declared a war economy, but that countries like Germany have even chosen to go back to coal. An energy that fortunately in no head goes through including in the green taxonomy.

“The panorama has changed a lot since the Russian invasion and right now we find ourselves in a situation in which we really have to use all the alternatives that exist,” explains the Renew group’s MEP, Luis Garicano, to El Mundo. On the part of the environmental groups, it has been criticized that this measure is a ‘greenwashing’ for nuclear and gas, despite many conditions that are applied to them.

2030 for gas and 2040 for nuclear. The proposal recognizes that neither gas nor nuclear are “neutral”, but considers them “transitional activities”. Although the two energies will be included in the green taxonomy, their investment will have a deadline. Specifically, the Commission establishes 2030 as the maximum date to invest in gas and 2040 for nuclear.

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