POLITICS & INSTITUTIONS - EUROPE

Taxonomy

EU green label should be nuclear-free, Luxembourg urges



The nuclear power plant in Cattenom, near Luxembourg Library photo: Matic Zorman / Maison Moderne

The nuclear power plant in Cattenom, near Luxembourg Library photo: Matic Zorman / Maison Moderne

An EU taxonomy to label sustainable business activities must be nuclear-free, Luxembourg said on Thursday in a joint declaration with four other member countries.

Austria, Denmark, Germany, Portugal and Luxembourg in a joint statement pushed for a nuclear-free taxonomy after efforts by other states, such as France and Finland, for nuclear power to be labelled as green.

The labelling, for example, would determine whether investments in such technology would count as sustainable, which in turn could impact how the alignment of financial flows to the Paris Agreement is measured.

“To keep the 1,5°C temperature goal in focus, a deep transformation of the emitting sectors is needed in this decade. Nuclear power is not able to contribute to a fast and sustainable transition,” Luxembourg’s environment minister Carole Dieschbourg (Déi Gréng) said in a statement, saying that renewable energies are the building blocks of a sustainable, cheaper and safer future.

“An inclusion of nuclear power in the list of 'sustainable activities' of the EU taxonomy would represent a labelling fraud,” Dieschbourg said. “The trust of private and institutional investors who choose sustainable investment to support the energy transition in a positive way, would be massively damaged if their investments end up in supporting the nuclear energy sector through the backdoor.”

The declaration states that it is up to member countries to decide whether they want to include nuclear power in their national energy systems or not. But they are against including nuclear power in the taxonomy.

“Including nuclear energy in the taxonomy would have massive negative consequences for the credibility, the safety and the transparency in Europe and around the world,” Dieschbourg said.

Despite Luxembourg’s opposition to including nuclear power in the taxonomy, the country’s pension fund invests in energy providers operating nuclear power stations, such as Electricité de France (EDF), which runs Cattenom power plant near the Luxembourg border.

The pension fund has pledged a review of sustainability criteria.

In October, ten EU countries, led by France, asked the European Commission to recognise nuclear power as a low-carbon energy source that should be part of the transition to climate neutrality.

The EU has pledged to reduce emissions by 55% by 2030 and be carbon neutral by 2050. Nuclear power plants account for around a quarter of the electricity produced in the European Union.

The countries urged the commission to include nuclear energy in the EU taxonomy, which sets standards for governments and investors to identify whether or not projects meet the Paris Agreement goals.

The taxonomy includes sectors ranging from solar and geothermal energy to hydrogen, win and hydropower. But Brussels delayed a decision on whether nuclear energy is a clean source of power when it launched the taxonomy in April over a lack of consensus between member states.