The European Commission’s plan to give nuclear energy a “green” label in European taxonomy is causing a shock. Germany, and probably soon Belgium, are increasingly isolated.
Billions of subsidies are at stake. To achieve its objective of carbon neutrality by 2030 and then by 2050, the EU wants to promote renewable energies through a taxonomy. One of these low carbon energy sources would be nuclear power.
On the Finnish side, the leader of the Green Party in the Finnish Parliament, Atte Harjannes, said in the German newspaper on Sunday The world that environmentalists had adjusted their vision of nuclear energy in 2020, based on “science”: “Of course, nuclear energy is sustainable. The amount of waste is very low compared to the enormous amount of CO2 neutral energy produced by a nuclear power plant. This waste can be stored safely, unlike the greenhouse gases emitted by a coal or gas power plant ”, as noted in Mail International.
For Atte Harjannes, “the end justifies the means”. He believes nuclear power will allow Finland to become carbon neutral by 2035.
Germany keeps a stiff leg
Germany does not intend to change course. The three remaining nuclear power plants in Germany will be closed by the end of the year. This is the result of a decision taken in 2011, after the Fukushima disaster in Japan, which was followed by large-scale protests against nuclear power in Germany. Symbolizing a diametrically opposed point of view, a member of the SPD majority recently compared pronuclear to anti-vaccines.
Since its decision, Germany has had one of the EU’s worst carbon footprints. While the country has made significant progress in deploying renewable energy sources, they remain insufficient. This means that Germany is actually forced to get its energy from coal.
In the new taxonomy, the Germans insisted on including gas as “green” energy. Germany relies on gas, which is cleaner than coal, to achieve carbon neutrality. For this, the country is counting on the Nord Stream 2 project, in collaboration with the Russians
Germany is increasingly isolated on the nuclear issue. The coalition that the Germans are forming with Austria, Ireland, Portugal, Luxembourg and probably soon Belgium is opposed to France and the countries of the East, who see nuclear power as the ideal way to do without coal. Thus, in the taxonomy, which is the result of a compromise, nuclear energy and gas should be classified as green energy sources; one will not do without the other.
France and Belgium
In France, the ecological presidential candidate Yannick Jadot, who has long opposed nuclear power, has been very discreet on this issue, reports Sunday Newspaper. Because he knows that a majority of voters, even on the left, support nuclear power. Even within the green electoral base, the mindset towards nuclear power seems to have changed.
In Belgium, the decision to phase out nuclear power by 2025 was postponed for the umpteenth time under pressure from the MR. However, it is difficult to see how the Belgian Greens could not succeed in a fight that has lasted for 20 years. The coalition agreement will lead to a gradual abolition of nuclear energy, and Green Minister Tinne Van Der Straeten has been mandated to do so.
It will do everything in its power to secure electricity supplies, despite the various disputes over the construction of new gas-fired power stations, which should partly compensate for the exit. In addition, there is no majority to overturn the law requiring the phase-out of nuclear power by 2025. Little consolation for the liberals that a budget of 100 million euros is allocated to the study of very hypothetical new generation reactors.
This is the path also encouraged by the European Commission. Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton estimates that by 2050 Europe will invest some 500 billion euros in the next generation of nuclear power plants. Germany and Belgium will then be left to fend for themselves.
Nuclear power plants currently produce a quarter of the EU’s electricity, according to Eurostat figures.
Globally, China plans to build no less than 168 reactors in the coming years. Even Japan has announced its intention to build 11 reactors.
(am / lp)