Germany warns plan to label nuclear energy sustainable is ‘risky and expensive’

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Germany has objected to draft EU plans to label nuclear power plants as an environmentally friendly energy source that can help countries reach their climate change goals.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s new three-party coalition government voiced its objections in a formal letter to Brussels, ministers said on Saturday.

The EU aims to set standards for green investments, helping climate-friendly projects attract private capital and stamping out “greenwashing” – where investors and companies overstate their eco-credentials.

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“As the federal government, we have once again clearly expressed our rejection of the inclusion of nuclear energy. It is risky and expensive,” said Vice Chancellor and Economy Minister Robert Habeck. In the letter, published by the Economy Ministry, the German government also pointed to the lack of safety requirements regarding nuclear power plants.

“Serious accidents with large, cross-border and long-term hazards to humans and the environment cannot be excluded,” the letter read.

It added that the question of where to store radioactive waste in the long term was still unanswered.

The EU rules have been long delayed, with countries split over whether nuclear energy and natural gas merit a green badge.

Austria has already said it would take legal action if the European Commission proceeds with its draft plan to label both as sustainable investments.

The German government said it supported a temporary green label for natural gas as a bridge solution on the bloc’s path to climate neutrality.

“Gas-fired power plants can facilitate the rapid transition to renewable energies and the reduction of emissions in the energy sector as a whole,” it said.

During months of debate on the proposals, Germany and other EU member states argued that gas investments were needed to help them quit more-polluting coal.

Others said labelling a fossil fuel as green would undermine the credibility of the EU as it seeks to be a global leader in tackling climate change.

Emissions-free nuclear energy is similarly divisive.

France, the Czech Republic and Poland are among those saying that nuclear power should have a big role in curbing global warming. Austria, Germany and Luxembourg are among those opposed. The European Commission hopes to adopt a final text by the end of the month. Germany is due to cease operations at its remaining nuclear power stations this year.

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