“Nuclear produces no emissions from power generation and alongside wind power has the lowest lifecycle carbon footprint, as well as taking up less land than any other clean power source,” Mr Greatrex said. “It is a clean, sustainable technology that is essential to our net zero future, and we call on the green technical advisory group to recognise that in its work.”
Mr Greatrex said the EU has already exhaustively examined the impact of different energy technologies to create its own taxonomy, concluding that nuclear is as sustainable as renewable technologies. The new UK group should draw on this huge body of existing work to inform its own research, and ensure a steady flow of investment into nuclear as well as renewable energy sources.
Without new nuclear projects, nuclear capacity will shrink rapidly, particularly in the UK, leading to higher emissions and the loss of capabilities critical for net zero.
Confirmation earlier this week of the closure of two Dungeness B units brought the number of commercial reactors in operation in the UK to 13. If remaining closures go ahead as planned only the two new EPR units under construction at Hinkley Point C will be operating in 2035.
The government said that by clearly defining which economic activities count as environmentally sustainable, the UK green taxonomy will clamp down on greenwashing – unsubstantiated or exaggerated claims that an investment is environmentally friendly – and make it easier to understand how a firm is impacting the environment.
The EU produced its taxonomy to help meet climate and energy targets for 2030 and reach the objectives of the European Green Deal, a package of environmental policies published in December 2019 that sets out how to make Europe the first climate-neutral continent by 2050.