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Monday’s meeting of European Union foreign ministers failed to lead to the adoption of rules for a phase-out of fossil fuels as European countries argue over the categorization of nuclear energy as part of the energy transition.
The meeting was intended to reach an agreement that would be presented as the EU’s unified policy at the United Nations COP 28 summit in December.
The text that failed to garner agreement from all members of the EU, warns against the market and geopolitical vulnerability created by fossil fuel dependence and calls for a global phase-out of coal as a first critical step.
"While recognising a transitional role for natural gas, the shift towards a climate neutral economy will require the global phase-out of unabated fossil fuels," the text notes.
EU foreign affairs high representative Josep Borrell said in a statement after the meeting that Russia's invasion of Ukraine demonstrates the "need for increased global action among the biggest emitters", Argus Media reports.
A key sticking point is the role that nuclear energy would play in a fossil-fuels phase out and a clean energy transition.
France, which relies heavily on nuclear energy, is pitted against Germany and Spain–among others–who feel that nuclear energy would slow down the pace of renewable energy development.
France derives roughly 70% of its energy from nuclear power.
There is also increasing support for nuclear energy in the United Kingdom, with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak inking an ~$840-million deal with France’s state-backed EDF utility to build a 3.2GW nuclear power station on the Suffolk coast.
Despite a lack of agreement on Monday, the EU has made significant progress transitioning to renewables over the past decade, with renewables nearing market share parity with fossil fuels for electricity generation by 2021. In 2011, fossil fuels accounted for 49% of the EU’s electricity output, compared to only 18% for renewables. By 2021, those figures were 36% and 32%, respectively.
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
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Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com