EU Clean Energy Move Divides Member Countries

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The European Union (EU) has proposed classifying some nuclear power and natural gas plants as green investments to help the continent meet its aggressive carbon reduction targets. Several member countries have applauded the move, while others are fiercely criticizing it.  

“The Commission considers there is a role for natural gas and nuclear as a means to facilitate the transition towards a predominantly renewable-based future,” says the European Commission in a statement on the proposal.

Europe needs an investment of at least 250 billion euros, or $284.31 billion, to reach its goal of carbon neutrality by 2050. Most of that will need to come from the private sector. The EU hopes to encourage investment by clearly stating what qualifies as “green” and what doesn’t. The hope is that, with continued investments, the costs of green energy projects will come down. The plan is still under review, and the EU hopes to finalize it later this month. 

Under the proposal, investments in new nuclear plants will be considered green through 2045. Extending the life of existing plants will be regarded as green until 2040. The plants will have to show they and their governments have plans to take care of nuclear waste and for the costs of decommissioning plants in the future. 

New natural gas investments will be considered green until 2030, as long as their carbon emissions remain under a fixed threshold and cause no significant environmental harm. 

France has welcomed the proposal by pushing to consider nuclear, its primary energy source, as “green.” Finland and the Czech Republic also see nuclear energy as crucial to their clean energy transitions. 

Unfortunately, France’s neighbor to the east, Germany, has criticized the move and has continued its crusade against nuclear power. Europe’s economic superpower recently shut down three of its six reactors and will close the remaining reactors by year-end. 

We’ve consistently asserted that Germany’s anti-nuclear stance contradicts its clean energy goals and will eventually lead to blackouts. Austria and Luxembourg have also linked arms with Germany in opposition to labeling nuclear as “green” energy.

Yet, the government of newly installed Chancellor, Olaf Scholz, has adopted a much friendlier attitude towards Europe’s use of natural gas in the continent’s evolving energy portfolio.

His coalition led government recently stated that “…natural gas is an important bridging technology on the way to greenhouse gas neutrality against the background of the phase-out of nuclear energy and coal-fired power generation.”

The EU proposal may have sparked fierce debate within its member states, but it seems to be moving the energy discussion in the right direction. There are many viable solutions to solving the carbon reduction puzzle and we’re excited to see that such reliable fuels like nuclear and natural gas have a seat at the table.