Nuclear Politics

Taxonomy / Commissioner Defends Inclusion Of Nuclear In Sustainable Investment Legislation

By David Dalton
1 February 2022

Bloc’s green finance rules being ‘fine-tuned’ before possible adoption later this week
Commissioner Defends Inclusion Of Nuclear In Sustainable Investment Legislation
The EU’s financial services commissioner Mairead McGuinness defended the inclusion of nuclear and gas in the European commission’s proposal for sustainable investment guidelines in an interview with Politico’s Brussels Playbook.

The proposal is “not about saying you must invest in X energy or Y,” Ms McGuinness said. “This is about classifying under what conditions we believe that nuclear and gas can be accommodated with conditions in the transition category of the taxonomy … It is up to the investor community and those involved with those technologies, to decide if they use those standards.”

Her comments came as the commission’s college of commissioners is poised to sign off on the sustainable finance taxonomy proposal this week, with press reports saying an announcement is expected on Wednesday. The commission argues that the decision to include nuclear and gas is essential to ensure Europe can transition to a renewable-led energy landscape and meet its climate targets.

Ms McGuinness said that while the commission is “fine-tuning” the delegated act before its adoption on Wednesday, it is unlikely to change significantly from the draft proposal, which the commission published on 31 December 2021.

“We won’t be rewriting the text. We are looking at the detail of the submissions that were made to us to see if we can accommodate, but I would be thinking more of tweaks rather than rewriting,” Ms McGuinness said.

The taxonomy is a set of rules that will restrict which activities can be labelled as climate-friendly investments. It is intended to guide investors to projects that are in line with Europe’s goal of net zero emissions by 2050.

The taxonomy became law in July 2020, but legislators left important details to be resolved through delegated acts – secondary legislation meant for technical issues that is not subject to the same degree of ministerial and parliamentary oversight.

Since then, the project has been overshadowed by a fierce political row that culminated when EU leaders meeting in Brussels before Christmas were forced to abandon plans for a joint statement on energy policy. France wants a stamp of approval for nuclear, while Poland and eastern European states insist gas is labelled a sustainable investment.

Ten 10 EU countries have spoken out in support of nuclear power, saying it is “absolutely essential” it is included in the taxonomy.

In an opinion article in a number of European newspapers, the countries said nuclear energy is an affordable, stable and independent energy resource. Firstly, because it protects European consumers from price volatility, unlike gas. Secondly, because it contributes decisively to the independence of the EU’s sources of energy and electricity production.

Ministers from Germany, Austria, Portugal, Denmark and Luxembourg said they are against the inclusion of nuclear in the taxonomy, with Austria saying it will go to court to prevent nuclear being part of the taxonomy rules.

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