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Are nuclear and gas friendly to the environment? Brussels believes so
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Are nuclear and gas friendly to the environment? Brussels believes so

Are gas and nuclear energy friendly to the environment? Brussels thinks so

What is green and what are the red flags? This may sound like a simple question but it is a political minefield in Brussels. The European Commission wants to include nuclear power plants and gas on its list of sustainable investments.

This proposal has been strongly criticised by some European Union countries and environmental clubs. What does the list actually mean? And what is Brussels trying to accomplish with it?

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The green listing, as it is also known, is meant to be a distinguishing characteristic. It should be clear to investors what constitutes a sustainable investment. An investor might be looking for a green, inland shipping company to invest. The condition is that carbon dioxide doesn’t escape from the chimney. How do you invest money in a fertilizer plant. This investment is considered green if it uses wastewater as a source.

The Quality Mark was created by the authority to encourage companies and stop them from pretending that they are more sustainable. Soon the company won’t be able to simply label a product as “green.”

green gas?

Gas-fired power plants will be included in the list. They will therefore be considered viable investments in Europe. “If you want to build a new power plant in the future, it could be cheaper,” says Sander van Horn, EU correspondent. “Because the European Quality Mark makes it a safe investment, which means that banks lend you money faster and charge less interest.”

The plans are criticized by environmental clubs. While gas-fired power plant pollute the environment less often than coal-fired power, they still emit large amounts of carbon dioxide. According to Greenpeace, a lot. He describes the European Commission’s plan as a “license” for companies to pretend they are greener than they are now. The polluting firms will be happy.

Van Horn states that Brussels views gas as a necessary fuel transition fuel. “Germany shuts down nuclear power plants and has to get rid of coal. The same goes for Belgium. There simply isn’t enough wind and solar power to replace those power plants.”

The decision to add nuclear power plants to the list was also criticised. Although nuclear power plants emit no carbon dioxide, the radioactivity of nuclear waste can be emitted for thousands of years. The risk of nuclear catastrophe is also highlighted by countries like Germany and environmental organizations.


The discussion shows where the EU’s political fault lines are, says Van Horn. France, which owns several nuclear power stations, wants Europe to support nuclear power. Germany strongly opposes it. Eastern European countries would like natural gas to be included in the sustainability list. They feel that the shift from coal to solar and/or wind is still too vast.

According to the European Commission, the proposed list is a compromise that serves multiple purposes. France and the Czech Republic are heavily dependent on nuclear power. They are further away from their climate targets, if they have the need to switch to gas in order to shut down their nuclear power plants.

The rating specifies conditions for when a power plant is considered “green”. For example, nuclear waste must be stored safely, and a “green” gas-fired power plant must replace the (more polluting) oil or coal-fired power plant. “And these requirements become more stringent over the years,” Van Horn says.

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However, critics fear the commission’s proposal will lead to less investment in solar and wind energy. Van Horn: This is the biggest fear of the European Parliament’s Green parties. They argue that if you can build a cheap gas power plant, why bother with wind farm? They say that Europe has a model work ethic. Do you want to signal the rest of the world? The world is now aware that gas is green

The Green List is not final. The European Parliament and its members have yet to vote.

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