Amsterdam, 28 March 2023
Ms. Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission
Mr. Frans Timmermans, Commission VP for the European Green Deal
Mr. Valdis Dombrovskis, Commission VP for an Economy for People
Ms. Mairead McGuinness, Commissioner for Financial Services and Markets
Ms. Kadri Simson, Commissioner for Energy
Mr. Thierry Breton, Commissioner for Internal Market
A short while ago, we read with dismay the news that Austria chose to challenge the inclusion of nuclear energy in the European Union’s taxonomy for sustainable activities. We read with further dismay that Greenpeace had decided to take legal action to the same end. While we welcome the challenge to the inclusion of natural gas in the taxonomy, the continuing attacks on the inclusion of nuclear energy are counterproductive and dangerous.
In 2022, the crisis of climate change was already upon us, and the urgency of a rapid switch from fossil fuels to clean energy of all types was already present. It is now greater still. The ongoing criminal invasion of Ukraine by Russia adds a geopolitical and humanitarian angle – Europe’s dependence on imported fossil fuels is a major vulnerability, one which Vladimir Putin has been only too keen to exploit. Do we really wish to be dependent on the energy
The continuing attacks on the inclusion of nuclear energy are counterproductive and dangerous
The need for simultaneous decarbonisation of our energy supply, and for energy independence for all of Europe, has never been clearer – and nor has the vexatious nature of the legal action being undertaken by Greenpeace against nuclear energy.
Nuclear is the single largest source of carbon-free energy, providing 25 per cent of all electricity across the EU. It provides security of supply, and in addition to the direct supply-chain benefits of nuclear operation and construction, the clean, cheap, plentiful and reliable energy it supplies enables the survival and indeed growth of economies across Europe.
It is exasperating how evidence of nuclear energy’s superior qualities in terms of economic, ecological and societal sustainability, compiled in a report by the Commission’s own science and knowledge service – the Joint Research Centre– are ignored in this discourse. Nuclear energy has the lowest life-cycle mineral resource needs of all energy sources, which is advantageous for the environment and the economy as well as supply chain security. As the most power-dense source, nuclear also provides land-sparing benefits for the energy transition.
The need for simultaneous decarbonisation of our energy supply, and for energy independence for all of Europe, has never been clearer
The JRC report discusses technical and stakeholder solutions for nuclear waste. Some may weigh this issue differently, but they should bear in mind that industrial waste exists for all low-carbon sources, and that spent nuclear fuel still has enormous potential for energy production in a closed fuel cycle.
It is telling that our Ukrainian friends and allies, who were hit with the worst consequences of Soviet negligence and Russian aggression, are supportive rather than fearful of nuclear energy – in contrast to some Western European politicians – and plan to expand its role post-war. Russia’s invasion has been largely bankrolled by sales of fossil fuels, particularly natural gas, to Europe. It should not be hard to draw connections here. Ukrainians show a better understanding of the benefits of nuclear energy; that it saves lives by providing energy security without air pollution, displacing fossil fuels and mitigating energy poverty.
Are we really willing to throw them under the bus to appease a counterproductive stance that runs contrary to the scientific consensus ?
By pursuing legal action against nuclear energy, Austria and Greenpeace are gambling with the feasibility of the energy transition, and, as a consequence, our livelihoods.
It is telling that our Ukrainian friends and allies are supportive rather than fearful of nuclear energy
It is our concern, as individuals deeply committed to a liveable future for humanity and a secure European energy system, that Greenpeace’s decision to challenge the inclusion of nuclear energy in the EU taxonomy for sustainable activities may hamper the transition to low-carbon energy that’s so desperately needed. This is a risk that we cannot afford to take, as Europeans, and indeed as humans living on Earth. The potentially chilling effect, as with Austria’s decision to pursue legal action to a similar end, is firmly in the realms of irresponsible risk, especially in such troubling and historic times as these.
Nuclear power is not a ‘transitional’ energy source, but already a de facto sustainable one. All we ask is that nuclear energy be given political support, like wind and solar, in order to unlock its full potential as a cornerstone of a sustainable and prosperous future.
Nuclear power is a de facto sustainable energy source. All we ask is that nuclear energy be given political support, like wind and solar
The proposed Net Zero Industry Act (NZIA) provides a golden opportunity for a united Europe to back nuclear energy – clean energy. Wind, solar, and hydropower alone are not enough. Nuclear must be included on an equal footing with all other clean energy sources in the NZIA.
Every day counts, and every day we delay firm climate action – which includes nuclear energy – is a day we will rue to have wasted in the years to come. The sooner we acknowledge the positive role nuclear power can play in our transition, the more realistic a low-carbon future becomes. We call on all political representatives in the EU to face the facts and do the right thing.
On behalf of RePlanet,
Olguita Oudendijk LLM
Director, RePlanet Nederland