16 Nov 2021, 13:55
Julian Wettengel

European NGOs urge aspiring chancellor Scholz to ban gas and nuclear from EU taxonomy

Clean Energy Wire

More than 100 NGOs from across Europe have called on Germany's aspiring chancellor Olaf Scholz to do everything in his power as current finance minister and prospective head of Germany's next government to keep nuclear and natural gas out of the EU taxonomy for sustainable investments. “We call on you to swiftly and decisively confirm the German veto against labelling nuclear as a sustainable form of energy and highlight that the (European) Commission’s attempt to shape this discussion during the sensitive time of a new government being formed in Germany is not acceptable,” they write in a letter. They argue that nuclear energy is unsustainable due to severe safety risks, environmental pollution and the unsolved waste problem, and that fossil gas causes large quantities of climate-damaging greenhouse gas emissions. The EU taxonomy is a classification system that defines and ranks environmentally sustainable economic activities as a framework to allow investors to shift investments to climate-friendly alternatives. The question whether to include gas and nuclear in the taxonomy has divided the EU for some time, with France and other nations pushing for the inclusion of nuclear while others want gas to receive a sustainability label, arguing it is as a less carbon-intensive alternative to coal in the medium run. At the UN climate conference COP26 in Glasgow, German environment minister Svenja Schulze and several European colleagues reiterated their call for a nuclear-free EU taxonomy.

The European Commission is set to come out with a delegated act soon, which could only be blocked by a qualified majority of member states. Both European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen and European Union climate chief Frans Timmermans have hinted that gas would get a green label, although this could be subject to strict conditions, such as pre-fitting pipelines to carry green hydrogen at some point. Several MPs from European countries and members of the European Parliament have also called for a nuclear and gas-free taxonomy in a joint declaration. They call on the Commission to wait “until all the national governments could form an opinion about this.” Whether to include gas in the taxonomy is also an issue that has been discussed in the ongoing coalition negotiations in by Scholz's Social Democrats (SPD), the Green Party and the pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) in Berlin. The Greens have called for distinguishing between the supply of fossil gas and the promotion of gas infrastructure, which Germany needs in the future for renewable gases like hydrogen.

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