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13 Jan 2022, 14:32
Edgar Meza

German authority rejects EU nuclear plans as Commission leader defends taxonomy proposal

Handelsblatt / dpa / Die Zeit

Germany’s Federal Office for the Safety of Nuclear Waste Management (BASE) has rejected plans by the European Commission to classify nuclear power as “sustainable” in its taxonomy and warned against recognising investments in its as “green”, according to a dpa report carried by Handelsblatt. In a BASE analysis presented on Wednesday, the Office said labelling nuclear power investments as sustainable was “incomprehensible". The European Commission is "guided exclusively by the supposedly positive contribution of nuclear energy to climate protection" and disregards the view that it is not sustainable, BASE wrote. The EU assessment gives far too little attention to significant criteria, such as the risk of nuclear accidents and the difficulties involved in disposing of nuclear waste, the Federal Office stated. There are also many unanswered safety questions about new types of reactors and possible extensions of the service life of existing nuclear reactors that the Commission has not answered, it added.

"From a technical point of view, the classification of nuclear power as a sustainable form of energy generation is not tenable," said BASE President Wolfram König. Describing nuclear energy as "a high-risk technology", König warned that it also harboured the "risk of the misuse of radioactive material for terrorist and warlike purposes". Speaking to Die Zeit, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen defended the move, saying the taxonomy was “a voluntary guide for private investors”, who can use it to make investments that contribute to climate neutrality. She stressed that the EU needs to find the right bridges “to make the transition to a world with 100 percent renewables. The key is to get out of the extremely dirty coal quickly, which in Germany still accounts for over 30 percent of electricity generation.” There must also be a plan for reducing nuclear waste until none of it leaves the cycle, she added.

The European Commission presented a proposal on 31 December that would classify investments in new nuclear power plants as green as long as they meet the latest standards and a specific plan for radioactive waste is in place. The Commission also plans to temporarily classify investments in new gas-fired power plants as green, something Germany supports.

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