Nuclear Politics

Europe / Commission Unveils Measures To Boost Green Financing

By Kamen Kraev
7 July 2021

Taxonomy updated, but still without nuclear
Commission Unveils Measures To Boost Green Financing
The European Commission (EC) released yesterday a package of measures to boost the financing of sustainable investment in the 27-member bloc with the goal of reaching its greenhouse gas emission reduction goals by 2030.

The EC said a new sustainable finance strategy will support the financing of the transition to a sustainable economy by helping public and private stakeholders channel capital into green economic activities.

The Commission also proposed the creation of an European Green Bond Standard (EUGBS) to serve as a guideline for how private companies and public authorities can use green bonds to raise funds on capital markets. The EUGBS will be voluntary and open to all investors, but will be aligned to the EU’s sustainable finance taxonomy.

According to the EC, there is a “lot of investor appetite” for green bonds coupled with a potential to “scale-up and increase the environmental ambition” of the green bond market.

Finally, the EC also published a delegated act to supplement the sustainable finance taxonomy. The act focuses on the technicalities of information disclosure by financial and non-financial organisations related to the proportion of green economic activities in their businesses and investments.

The EC has made no mention of nuclear power in the new delegated act, practically delaying a decision about the status of nuclear power in the taxonomy.

Last week, two expert groups, which were assigned by the EC to assess nuclear energy against taxonomy criteria, published their reports complementing an April report by the EU’s Joint Research Centre (JRC).

The JRC, the EC’s scientific expert arm, was asked to assess whether the EU should label nuclear power as a green investment. It concluded that nuclear fuel qualified as sustainable and does no more harm to human health or to the environment than other electricity production sources already included in the bloc’s taxonomy.

The EC, however, decided not to include nuclear in the taxonomy, which entered into force last summer, and said it would include nuclear power under a complementary delegated act expected in 2021. The act would carry the technical screening criteria for determining the conditions under which nuclear could qualify as contributing to sustainability and climate change mitigation.

The EC asked two more expert groups – the Euratom Article 31 expert group on radiation protection and the scientific committee on health, environmental and emerging risks (SCHEER) – to review JRC’s report and provide an opinion on the matter against the taxonomy’s “do no significant harm” criteria.

Last week, the EC said it would now need to take into account the three reports – by JRC, Article 31 group, and SCHEER – to make its decision about the inclusion of nuclear in the delegated acts to the taxonomy regulation. This is still expected to happen before the end of 2021.

The European nuclear industry has been calling on the Commission to maintain the principle of technological neutrality when assessing the criteria for all power generating technologies in the taxonomy.

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