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EU proposes that gas and nuclear energy be labeled as climate-friendly
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EU proposes that gas and nuclear energy be labeled as climate-friendly

The European Commission published on Saturday a draft proposal which suggested that gas and nuclear energy be classified and that they be climate-friendly.

As 2021 was drawing to a close, the proposal was sent to member states of the European Union late Friday night.

The controversial plan, which aims at directing investment towards energy production within the bloc, is set to play out amid an already-existing rift within the bloc.

The proposal’s supporters argue that gas is cleaner than coal and that nuclear energy emits zero carbon emissions.

These options are not acceptable to those who seek environmental sustainability. Robert Habeck, Germany’s Vice-Chancellor, is an environmentalist from the Green Party. He stated that the plan would “waterdown” existing efforts.

What does the draft document say?

The draft document’s guidelines would limit the green label to nuclear power plants that use the most recent technological standards and have strict plans for waste disposal.

Likewise for gas plants, only those using the highest standards could be considered for the classification with a limit of 100 grams of carbon dioxide released per kilowatt-hour of energy produced.

The draft is open to all member states until January 12, when they can respond to it. If the majority of the members support the proposal, it would become effective in 2023.

According to the Commission, the plan would “accelerate phasing out more harmful sources, like coal, and in moving we towards a more low carbon, greener energy mix.”

How did the German legislature react?

Habeck, who is also Germany’s economy and climate minister, accused the Commission of “greenwashing” using policies that appear climate friendly to cover environmentally destructive practices.

Habeck said to the German press agency dpa, “We can’t see an approval for these new proposals from the EU Commission.”

He called the labeling of nuclear energy as sustainable “wrong,” pointing to the long-term effects of nuclear waste.

Habeck said, “It’s more dubious than it seems.” “It’s doubtful that this greenwashing will find any acceptance on the financial markets.”

Steffi Lemke, Germany’s Environment Minister, shared his sentiments.

“I find it completely absurd that the European Commission intends classify nuclear energy as a sustainable economically activity,” the Green party lawmaker told Funke media group.

Europe divided

Germany has been increasingly opposed to nuclear energy after the Fukushima disaster in 2011. This has led to the closure of three of the country’s six remaining facilities on December 31st. France is leading the charge for nuclear power as an alternative.

France is heavily dependent on nuclear energy. Paris also assumed the presidency of EU in the first half 2022.

The member states to the east and south of the bloc, which are more dependent on fossil fuels, have also supported gas as a potential source of transitional energy.

Since only a handful EU countries have spoken out against nuclear power, there are very slim chances that the draft will be rewritten.

ab/rs (dpa, AFP)

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