Europe includes nuclear in its sustainable taxonomy

At last, the European Union has agreed nuclear energy belongs in its taxonomy for sustainable investments, after RePlanet’s climate activists from several countries gathered in Strasbourg to increase the chance of a positive outcome to the vote.

Members of the RePlanet network gathered in Strasbourg. Joris van Dorp is holding the RePlanet flag.

The vote for inclusion of nuclear energy shows politicians have listened to science. For many years, rigorous studies have shown nuclear energy is at least as clean, safe and sustainable as other technologies already in the so-called EU taxonomy, which lists criteria for investments to be labelled sustainable. Yet political pressure led by Germany made it uncertain whether these scientific recommendations would be adopted.

And so, members of the RePlanet network from France, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland and the Czech Republic teamed up. Before the vote, at the entrance to the European Parliament building, we reminded members of parliament that scientific studies have proven nuclear is sustainable, and that it has popular support.

“Recognizing nuclear energy as sustainable is a watershed moment”, says Joris van Dorp, climate activist and energy analyst at RePlanet Nederland. “Europe has taken a decisive step in embracing nuclear energy as part of its future, addressing climate change and supporting energy independence.”

"This historic vote shows the tide has now turned.”

Nuclear energy has the lowest CO2 emissions, the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) recently calculated. That’s why the IPCC climate panel sees nuclear energy as an essential climate solution. The Joint Research Centre, the scientific service of the European Commission, has concluded that nuclear energy is sustainable and belongs in the taxonomy.

However, natural gas was also added. This is possibly the result of “pressure from the fossil fuel lobby and the politicians who seem to think a society can rely on solar or wind,” says Van Dorp. “The inclusion of natural gas in the taxonomy is a disgrace for both the scientific and environmental community.”

Yet as a long-time advocate for nuclear’s potential to tackle climate change, Van Dorp recognizes the vote as a milestone in European politics. “If Europe is serious about weaning itself off fossil fuels, and providing citizens with reliable and affordable clean energy, supporting nuclear power is a crucial part of the solution. This historic vote shows the tide has now turned.”