Europe Asks: Is Nuclear Energy Clean?
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- Dec 1, 2019 2:05 am GMT
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France and Germany, mainland Europe’s two most important players traditionally, are in a dispute over the status of nuclear energy. Germany, which started phasing out nuclear power in 2011, believes it doesn’t deserve to be tagged as green under the official EU green energy finance taxonomy. France, which gets 75% of its power from nuclear plants, thinks it does.
Here’s more on the taxonomy as explained by EURACTIV FRANCE:
“Tabled in 2018, the EU taxonomy aims to determine which economic activities can benefit from a sustainable finance label at European level. The objective is to give clear indications to investors so they can redirect their financing towards environmentally-friendly sectors.
Six pre-defined environmental objectives must be met in order to obtain the label. If any technology seriously undermines one of those goals, it is automatically disqualified.
It is because of this double level of control that nuclear energy failed to win the green label in the European Parliament, until the Council representing EU member states voted to reinstate it in September.”
Nuclear energy was initially excluded from the taxonomy because there is no scientifically proven way of treating the waste. However, after some lobbying by France and other pro-nuclear states like Finland, it was reinstated because of its zero-carbon nature.
It will be interesting to see how this plays out, not just for Europe, but for the precedent it may set for other parts of the world. Personally, I’m hoping nuclear is re-embraced in the 2020’s. Nuclear isn’t perfect, but it seems to be the only practical shot we’ve got at mitigating the effects of climate change in the near future. France has long had a carbon neutral grid, Japan just had its lowest emissions year in recent history after restarting a number of nuclear plants. Germany, on the other hand, has struggled to hit its clean energy goals since backing away from nuclear.