In order to meet the EU’s climate and energy targets for 2030, the European Union published the ‘Taxonomy Regulation’ on June 22, 2020. The regulation paved the way for the EU taxonomy which is the “EU’s gold standard for sustainable investment guiding private investment towards environmental sustainability”. The EU taxonomy plays a very important role in future investment in sustainability and environmental projects. Essentially, the EU taxonomy is a classification system on a list of environmentally sustainable economic activities. It provides companies, investors and policymakers with a clear picture of what economic activities are considered environmentally sustainable. The aim of the EU taxonomy is to protect investors from fraudulent Green projects and “greenwashing”. This then guides companies to be sustainable and helps to shift the economic market towards a more environmental direction.

It has been highly discussed by the European Commission, on whether to include nuclear energy and fossil gas in the new EU taxonomy or not. For nuclear energy, on January 2021, the commission gathered a group of experts and conducted the ‘Joint Research Centre’s Report’. (The JRC report) is intended to examine the technical, social and environmental impacts of nuclear energy. The JRC report suggested that “the standards of environmental control needed to protect the general public are likely to be sufficient to ensure that other species are not put at risk”. In other words, science communities are supportive of including nuclear energy in the EU taxonomy. The protection of water and marine resources, as well as biodiversity however have still not thoroughly been examined under the JRC report. Little serious consideration has been done on whether to include fossil gas investments as a sustainable investment.

Photo credit: The Doel nuclear reactor, Port of Antwerp, Belgium. [TonyV3112 / Shutterstock]

The European Green Party issued a joint statement on 9th December 2021, pushing the European Commission to keep fossil gas and nuclear activities outside of the EU Taxonomy.

“The world has committed to move away from fossil fuels at COP26. Including fossil gas investments as sustainable would contradict efforts to phase out fossil subsidies. It is incompatible with scientific projections to decarbonise the power system in time to reach climate neutrality.”

“Even though nuclear energy emits relatively little CO2 per kwh, it does not pass the law’s requirement to avoid significant harm to other environmental objectives. Moreover, the principles defined in the law do not give any legal base to include nuclear energy in the Taxonomy. “

Photo credit: greensefa

The green party in Italy (Europa Verde) also voiced its concern on the new EU taxonomy.

“Salvini (Deputy Prime Minister of Italy) gets on the anachronistic nuclear bandwagon together with France, which wants to include nuclear power in the green taxonomy to take European funding that would be subtracted from renewables “

“Italy wants to return to the energy Middle Ages while the major European governments go in the opposite direction”

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