The letter said that reports by the EU’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) and two other expert groups “with expertise in environmental science” have shown that nuclear qualified as sustainable and does no more harm to human health or to the environment than other energy production sources already included in the bloc’s taxonomy.
The sustainable finance taxonomy is a package of regulations that governs investment in activities that the EU says are environmentally friendly.
“If we, and the EU as a whole, are serious about facing the climate crisis with powerful tools, then we cannot reasonably discriminate against any fossil-free technology with as much potential as nuclear power objectively has”, said the letter.
According to the MEPs, “there are obvious political wills from member states without nuclear power or with nuclear power currently being phased out” – referring to a group of anti-nuclear countries led by Germany – “to persuade the European Commission to ignore scientific conclusions and actively oppose nuclear power”.
“We urge the Commission to be brave enough to disregard these calls and to choose the path that their scientific experts have now advised them to take, namely to include nuclear power in the taxonomy”, the MEPs said.
The letter was organised by Swedish MEP Sara Skyttedal, member of the Swedish Christian Democrats and the European People’s Party, and signed by MEPs from 18 countries and across the political spectrum.
The EC decided not to include nuclear energy in the sustainable finance taxonomy, which entered into force last summer, and said it would include it under a complementary delegated act 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 Commission first asked the JRC, its scientific expert arm, to assess nuclear power against the taxonomy’s “do no significant harm” criteria. When the report was ready in April, the EC asked two other expert groups – the Euratom Article 31 expert group on radiation protection and the scientific committee on health, environmental and emerging risks (SCHEER) – to review the JRC’s report and provide additional opinions on the matter.
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.
Earlier this month, Germany, Austria, Denmark, Luxembourg, and Spain sent a letter to the Commission expressing their opposition to the possibility to include nuclear power in the taxonomy, voicing criticism of the JRC report.