Europe seeks to classify a fossil fuel as ‘green’ as energy crisis persists

By Thomas Catenacci

The European Union released a proposal that would define liquified natural gas (LNG) and nuclear energy as “green” energy, opening both up for greater investment across the region.

Both natural gas, which is a fossil fuel, and nuclear energy should be classified differently since they will be key to the EU’s transition to climate neutrality over the coming decades, the European Commission announced on Wednesday. Under the proposal, the energy sources would be added to the EU taxonomy, a classification system that guides private investment into environmentally sustainable economic activities.

Wikimedia Commons/Jukka Isokoski

France — which is largely dependent on nuclear plants that power most of its grid — lobbied the commission to include nuclear in the taxonomy, while Germany pushed for LNG’s inclusion.

“Today we are setting out how gas and nuclear could make a contribution in the difficult transition to climate neutrality,” EU Financial Services Commissioner Mairead McGuinness said during a press briefing. “We are putting in place strict conditions for their inclusion in the taxonomy.”

“Investors will be able to see whether a potential investment includes nuclear or gas activities, and they will remain free to choose if they want to invest in nuclear or gas — or not,” McGuinness said.

The plan would implement strict measures for future investment into nuclear and LNG, according to the announcement. For gas, the investment must contribute to the transition from coal power to renewable energy, and for nuclear projects, investments must fulfill environmental safety requirements.

The EU stressed that both would be important as “transitional activities” leading to clean energy sources such as wind and solar.

Europe, meanwhile, has recently experienced a significant energy crisis as low wind power has increased natural gas demand, sending energy prices higher. But European countries have largely committed to aggressive climate plans and the EU has released its own “Green New Deal” that calls for curbing emissions 55% by 2030.

Ahead of the announcement Wednesday, France — which is largely dependent on nuclear plants that power most of its grid — lobbied the commission to include nuclear in the taxonomy, while Germany pushed for LNG’s inclusion, the Associated Press reported. Still, the German government joined a choir of voices criticizing the proposal for its inclusion of nuclear.

“Today’s decision by the European Commission is unacceptable,” German Minister for the Environment Steffi Lemke said in response to the EU’s draft proposal, according to the AP. “Like many other EU member states, Germany is clearly and unequivocally against the inclusion of nuclear power in the taxonomy.”

“Nuclear power is anything but sustainable, it is risky, too expensive, and the construction and planning processes are too lengthy to contribute to climate neutrality by 2050,” Lemke said.

Germany shuttered three of its remaining six nuclear plants and vowed to close all remaining plants by the end of 2022 in December 2021.

France, though, has achieved the lowest carbon emissions relative to gross domestic product compared to all G20 nations over the last decade due to its high reliance on nuclear energy, according to World Bank data.

“Among all the advanced economies, France has the lowest carbon emissions, thanks to the nuclear power industry,” International Energy Agency Executive Director Fatih Birol told the Financial Times in July 2021.

In addition, carbon emissions have declined in the U.S. as the nation has relied more on natural gas and less on carbon-intensive coal. Natural gas produces far fewer carbon emissions when burned than oil or coal, according to the American Geosciences Institute.

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Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/Jukka Isokoski
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5 thoughts on “Europe seeks to classify a fossil fuel as ‘green’ as energy crisis persists

  1. Um…Hold on a minute. This is but a proposal. Natural gas and nuclear are currently unwanted and unwelcome sources with the European climate evangelists. But- Europe is in an energy crunch and must have both nuclear and natural gas. Germany pledged to close all their nuclear plants this year, without a viable alternative. Kinda like shumlin did with VT Yankee. The green lobby in Europe can and probably will block this definition change, pushing Europe into crisis. The parallels between Vermonts misguided energy evangelists and Europe’s are many, however the EU is realizing the problems with their “Grand Plan”. We here in Vermont continue to allow absolutely clueless politicians and bureaucrats be led by the green lobby down a path no one can afford. All in the name of being first.

  2. Nuclear is green energy now that modern Nuke plants (thorium) can burn the expended rods we used to have to store. The worse thing that happened for VT energy was shutting down Vernon and not replacing it with a modern one.. We wouldn’t have to pollute our fields with black squares nor our ridge tops with eye sore bird vegematics and would be paying near nothing for dependable plentiful clean energy… Others would be paying us to burn their nuke
    waste.. recycling at it’s finest..

  3. Give credit to the EU for seeing that any possible route to reduce coal consumption must require nuclear and natural gas to provide base load for unreliable solar and wind. The US would be smart to follow their lead! Better yet, forget the waste of money on wind (and solar) and press forward on nuclear technology, geothermal, and natural gas.
    The Earth is warming naturally as CO2 is almost fully saturated in the atmosphere and can only contribute < 3% if it doubles concentration again. CO2 at 800 ppm will provide the food the world needs.

  4. It’s absolutely amazing to consider the parallels between “global warming”, excuse me “climate change ” aka evil carbon (CO2) and the current covid virus hobgoblins.

    Have you noticed that our elected officials have not changed policy or protocol even though data has consistently shown a divergence between action and reality in both issues.

    As always you will find the answer to this vexing question just by following the money.
    It is shameful and more people should be out on the streets exercising their 1st Amendment rights.

    The current events in Canada as well as the Surety Bond revolt (https://bondsforthewin.com/) exemplify this pattern.

  5. Europe is looking at natural gas and nuclear with Joe Biden’s blessing of the Russian pipeline. Germany is burning coal along with Japan, which is replacing nuclear with coal powered plants…..We know what China is up to…….Coal, coal, coal and more coal fired power plants being built both domestically in China and around the world.

    So where’s Vermont?……..All in on wind and solar……..How would wind and solar be doing today in Vermont?…….How would those heat pumps be working today?

    Looks like the Vermont legislature has set a course for Vermont going in the opposite direction than the rest of the world when it comes to power generation……What does the Vermont legislature, VPRIG, CLF and the kids at 350.org know that the rest of the world seems to be messing when it comes to dealing with of climate change?

    Looks like Vermont’s going to be “Home Alone” with its ideologically constructed and renewable energy industry endorsed Climate Change Action Plan.

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