Environmental activists decry the plan as “green-washing” fossil fuel and nuclear energy.
Between German warnings of a cold, dark winter as the Russians turn off the fossil fuel spigot, it appears the bureaucrats are rethinking their complete embrace of ecoactivist energy policies.
Reality is now encroaching on “green energy” fever dreams, and politicos are word-smithing new policies so that some more reliable and traditional forms of fuel can be deemed environmentally friendly.
The European Union voted on Wednesday to keep some specific uses of natural gas and nuclear energy in its taxonomy of sustainable sources of energy.
Europe’s taxonomy is its classification system for defining “environmentally sustainable economic activities” for investors, policymakers and companies. This official opinion of the EU matters because it affects funding for projects as the region charts its path to address climate change. In theory, the taxonomy “aims to boost green investments and prevent ‘greenwashing,’” according to the EU’s parliament.
The vote on natural gas and nuclear energy follows one that was passed in February, which amounted to a referendum on what had been a particularly controversial piece of the ruling. Natural gas emits 58.5% as much carbon dioxide as coal, according to the U.S. Energy Information Association. Nuclear power does not generate any emissions, though it draws criticism surrounding the problem of storing radioactive waste.
The bureaucratic rationale behind the move is fascinating.
Gas is a fossil fuel that produces planet-warming emissions – but far less than coal, and some EU states see it as a temporary alternative to replace the dirtier fuel.
Nuclear energy is free from CO2 emissions but produces radioactive waste. Supporters such as France say nuclear is vital to meet emissions-cutting goals, while opponents cite concerns about waste disposal.
Slovakian prime minister Eduard Heger said the vote result was good for energy security and emissions-cutting targets.
“We’ll remain on the way to climate neutrality by 2050,” he said.
Ecoactivists and unhappy bureaucrats are already complaining the move is “green-washing” nuclear power and natural gas. Austria intends to bring the matter to the European Court.
Austria will bring a legal complaint against the European Union’s decision to classify gas and nuclear energy as green and sustainable transitional energy sources, its climate protection minister said.
“Especially with the war waging in Ukraine, we can’t have a greenwashing program for investment in nuclear power and fossil gas,” Leonore Gewessler said in a statement. “Nuclear energy and natural gas do not contribute to climate protection.”
Interestingly, the climate change push seems to be fueling a renaissance in nuclear power.
The International Energy Agency says it expects global nuclear power capacity will have to double by 2050 for the world to reach so-called net zero, in which greenhouse gas emissions are so low that they can be completely offset by forests and other natural means of absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Scientists say that achieving net zero is essential to fulfilling the Paris climate accord, which calls for governments to limit global warming close to 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial temperatures.
The U.K., Poland, the Czech Republic and the Netherlands have all announced plans to build new reactors, adding to Europe’s decades-old reactor fleet. France, which already generates 70% of its electricity from nuclear power plants, is beginning to train thousands of workers in the rigorous requirements of nuclear engineering and construction as part of a plan to build up to 14 new full-size reactors and other smaller ones.
Meanwhile, China and India happily use all the fossil fuels Europe is not.
India and other Asian nations are becoming an increasingly vital source of oil revenues for Moscow despite strong pressure from the U.S. not to increase their purchases, as the European Union and other allies cut off energy imports from Russia in line with sanctions over its war on Ukraine.
Such sales are boosting Russian export revenues at a time when Washington and allies are trying to limit financial flows supporting Moscow’s war effort.
A report by the Helsinki, Finland-based Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air, an independent think tank released Monday said Russia earned 93 billion euros ($97.4 billion) in revenue from fossil fuel exports in the first 100 days of the country’s invasion of Ukraine, despite a fall in export volumes in May.
There are no appeasing eco-activists. However, it is heartening to see some Europeans are unwilling to pull the plug on reliable sources of fuel entirely.DONATE
Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.