24 Aug 2021, 13:44
Edgar Meza

Most Germans reject nuclear power as sustainable investment target - survey

Clean Energy Wire / Reuters

An overwhelming majority of Germans see no place for nuclear power in sustainable investments, according to a survey conducted by research group Forsa on behalf of Berlin-based consumer protection organisation Finanzwende Recherche (Finance Transition Research). Sustainability standards that do not explicitly exclude nuclear power are not trusted in Germany, the organisation found. “The European Commission should take this knowledge into account when it presents details on the classification of sustainable investments in the autumn,” it states. The European Commission is currently working on a taxonomy, or classification system, for sustainable investments that specifies which economic activities can be considered sustainable and therefore also financed through “sustainable investments”. Conflicts between EU member states - France in particular advocates nuclear power – has kept the European Commission from making a decision on whether nuclear power should be defined as sustainable, Finanzwende Recherche points out.

The Commission last year began working to assess whether or not to include nuclear energy in the EU taxonomy of environmentally sustainable activities and is expected to present details of the classification system in autumn. Finanzwende Recherche has sought to determine whether a sustainability standard for financial products that includes nuclear power would be credible in Germany. A representative group of over 1,000 adults took part in the telephone survey. Among its findings: 82 percent of respondents would not describe an investment in which money was also invested in nuclear power as a “sustainable investment”, while only 15 percent would consider such an investment to be sustainable.

While the EU hopes to provide financial market guidelines needed to achieve the bloc's ambitious climate targets, observers have said its sustainable finance strategy represents a “missed opportunity” in resolving the nuclear question. Nuclear power will be phased out entirely in Germany at the end of next year. While industry representatives and also some environmental groups advocate to consider extending the technology's lifetime in Germany in order to facilitate the transition from fossil fuels, both the government and also nuclear power companies have firmly rejected a revival. Markus Krebber, head of nuclear plant operator RWE, reiterated only this week that "we are not available" for keeping the plants open longer, news agency Reuters reported. Krebber instead called on the next government to get a grip on sluggish renewables expansion.

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