EU mulls controversial move to deem nuclear, gas as ‘green investments’Reading Time: 2 minutes
The European Commission (EC) is considering classifying investments in nuclear and natural gas as sustainable under its new “green taxonomy” regulations , it said in a statement on 1 January. Brussels aims to cut Europe’s carbon emissions to zero by 2050.
While green stock and bond portfolios do not currently allow gas and nuclear, classifying them as sustainable would broaden their definition. In addition to renewable energy sources such as wind and solar, the EU taxonomy would now include nuclear and even natural gas, although coal and other carbon-emitting energy sources would still be phased out.
Opposition to the move has appeared in unexpected places. Recently, the Net-Zero Asset Owner Alliance, an international finance group in charge of EUR 9 trillion in assets, sent a joint statement to the EU urging it not to classify natural gas and nuclear power as green energy sources after a number of member states including Czechia, France and Poland pushed for their inclusion in the “sustainable” investment category.
Including nuclear and gas into Europe’s green transition has pitted pro-nuclear countries including France, Hungary, Poland and Romania against those looking to phase out nuclear power, notably Germany and Austria. In November the Visegrad 4 group members – Poland, Hungary, Czechia and Slovakia – issued a joint declaration stating their commitment to nuclear energy.
The pro-nuclear camp will have scored a big win if the EC proposal goes through, not least the EU’s leading proponent, France, which took over as head of the EU’s rotating presidency on January 1. In response to the draft proposal leaked that day, Hungary’s Minister of State at the Prime Minister’s Office Balazs Orban tweeted that “The Commission has now confirmed that there is no climate neutrality without nuclear energy.”
Now either the European Parliament or a majority of EU member states will have to approve the proposal for nuclear and natural gas to finally be included in the green taxonomy.