A group of 10 EU countries are urging the European Commission to label nuclear power as a green energy source and to be included as part of the EU’s upcoming sustainable finance rules. 

What is Happening?

10 European Union countries have jointly pushed for nuclear energy to be recognised as a low-carbon and green energy source, and to have it covered under the upcoming sustainable finance rules. 

A letter, initiated by France, was sent to the European Commission, featuring the signatures of nine other countries: Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Finland, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia and Romania. All of which already counts nuclear as part of their national energy mix. 

The group claims that nuclear power is a “key affordable, stable and independent energy source” that could protect EU consumers from being “exposed to the volatility of prices”. 

Recent spikes in energy prices, especially in natural gas, have highlighted the need for nations to cut dependency on overseas imports from third countries – states that are outside the EU. Currently, more than 90% of the bloc’s natural gas is sourced from foreign importers, and is heavily reliant on Russia. 

“Supply tensions will be more and more frequent and we have no choice but to diversify our supply. We should pay attention not to increase our dependency on energy imports from outside Europe,” said in the letter. 

The EU has been divided over nuclear energy and has yet to make a consensus on whether it should fall under the green investment umbrella. Nuclear generates just over 26% of the region’s total electricity at the moment. While Germany is sticking to their plan to close all its reactors by 2022, and other countries such as Austria, Denmark, Luxembourg and Spain have taken anti-nuclear stances citing the environmental impacts of nuclear waste, these 10 nations believe that nuclear power has a crucial role to play in achieving climate goals and benefit from a “sustainable finance” label. 

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“While renewable energy sources play a key role for our energy transition, they cannot produce enough low-carbon electricity to meet our needs, at a sufficient and a constant level,” the letter says.

“All scientific assessments requested by the European Commission on the environmental impacts of nuclear energy come to the same conclusion: there is no science-based evidence that nuclear power is less climate-friendly than any of the energy sources included in the taxonomy,” it adds

One of the biggest supporters for the new sustainable label is France, which has just announced a €1bn investment in nuclear energy by 2030 in light of the current energy crisis. Despite President Emmanuel Macron’s intention to shut down 14 reactors and reduce nuclear power generation from 75% to 50% by 2035 early in his presidency, he now plans on investing in new, “innovative small-scale nuclear reactors” as part of his newly announced “France 2030” investment plan. 

Though France’s carbon emissions are significantly lower than the likes of Germany, partly due to heavy investments in renewable energy, the country has also recently become more reliant on coal. Macron states that better waste management will feature as part of this new energy investment plan to those concerned with nuclear waste, but argues that “we will continue to need this technology”. 

Featured image by: © Raimond Spekking /CC BY-SA 4.0 (via Wikimedia Commons)