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The European Commission began this weekend expert consultations over whether nuclear power and some natural gas projects can be considered “sustainable” investments, receiving immediate backlash over “green nuclear” from Germany and Austria, which accused the EU’s executive branch of greenwashing.
“Taking account of scientific advice and current technological progress, as well as varying transition challenges across Member States, the Commission considers there is a role for natural gas and nuclear as a means to facilitate the transition towards a predominantly renewable-based future,” the EC said in a statement on Saturday.
Germany, the largest EU economy, and Austria were the first to react to the idea of labeling nuclear power as green. Germany—set to phase out all nuclear reactors by the end of 2022—is setting up for an EU fight with another major economy, France, which has most of its electricity generated from nuclear power and strongly supports labeling nuclear as a “sustainable” investment and energy source.
In Germany, Ricarda Lang of the Greens—which are now in the new coalition government—said on Monday that describing nuclear as “sustainable” is greenwashing.
“This is a form of greenwashing and we should not go with it,” Lang told German television ARD.
Germany’s neighbor to the south, Austria, also expressed opposition to nuclear power being labeled as “sustainable” and, unlike Germany, it criticized the European Commission for considering including some natural gas projects under the “sustainable” taxonomy.
“It’s clear for Austria: neither nuclear power nor fossil gas have been excluded from the proposed taxonomy,” Climate Protection Minister Leonore Gewessler said this weekend.
“If these plans are implemented as is, we will sue,” Gewessler added.
On Monday, the Austrian minister said in an interview with a local radio cited by Bloomberg: “Greenwashing atomic energy and fossil gas is completely unacceptable.”
Unlike Austria, Germany welcomed the inclusion of some gas projects as “sustainable.”
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.