N. Peter Kramer’s Weekly Column
The role of nuclear energy in tackling climate change is once again a divisive issue in the European Union. Two groups of memberstates are facing each other. Proponents, led by France, want nuclear-made hydrogen to count in the new EU targets for renewable energy. Paris says that the EU cannot achieve the climate goals without nuclear energy.
The French organised a meeting for energy-ministers from like-minded countries in the hope of raking in enough votes. The pro-nuclear energy coalition mainly consists of former Soviet republics. At the same time, the other camp organised a kind of ‘action meeting’ for ministers. During this session, countries such as Germany and Austria formed a front against nuclear energy led by the mini-memberstate Luxembourg. The Netherlands is represented in both camps. It is positive about a role for nuclear energy in the climate approach but against a general green label for nuclear power plants. The Hague only wants to allow this for the latest generation of nuclear power plants.
Last year there was already a strong argument about the role of nuclear energy in the EU. Thanks to a French lobby, modern nuclear power plants have been included in the green taxonomy, a qualification system for green investments. Austria and Luxemburg were then staunchly against, but couldn’t find enough votes to reject the decision.
De facto, EU memberstates have already agreed on a common position on nuclear energy. It is normally unusual to add new requirements in the middle of negotiations. But after Germany blocked on the last minute the total ban on petrol and diesel cars, and the European Commission through climate commissioner Frans Timmermans gave in in favour of Berlin, it seems that the door is open. The Swedish EU Presidency will come up with a compromise proposal. What are the Germans going to do…. ?