European Union (EU) lawmakers and member countries on 16 December agreed on a deal to promote environmentally-friendly investment after weeks of discussions on whether to exclude nuclear projects. EU countries were split over the green finance law, which aims to channel money into clean investment, in particular over whether financial products involving nuclear power could be labelled as green and receive funding. This is what France, the UK and some other Eastern European countries had wanted. The final agreement does not explicitly exclude nuclear energy.
Similar disagreements were manifest during the recent EU summit in Brussels where leaders discussed whether nuclear energy should be part of the bloc’s plan to make its economy carbon neutral by 2050. With the support of France, the pro-nuclear countries eventually won that argument with a clear reference to nuclear power in the meeting’s conclusions.
The compromise agreement on green finance adopted by EU Parliament negotiators and the European Council will exclude solid fossil fuels such as coal from any new investment support but will allow natural gas and nuclear energy. The criteria are designed so the transition activities necessary to become a climate-neutral economy, but which are themselves incompatible with climate neutrality, should have greenhouse gas emissions levels corresponding to the best performance in the sector or industry. Such transition activities could include nuclear power plants. The taxonomy regulation should enable investors to identify environmentally sustainable economic activities that substantially contribute to climate change mitigation, based on scientific evidence, environmental impacts and long-term risks.