The European Union has drawn up plans to label some natural gas and nuclear energy projects as “green” investments after a year-long battle between governments over which investments are truly climate-friendly.
A draft of the Commission’s proposal, seen by Reuters, would label nuclear power plant investments as green if the project has a plan, funds and a site to safely dispose of radioactive waste. To be deemed green, new nuclear plants must receive construction permits before 2045.
Investments in natural gas power plants would also be deemed green if they produce emissions below 270g of CO2 equivalent per kilowatt hour (kWh), replace a more polluting fossil fuel plant, receive a construction permit by December 31, 2030 and plan to switch to low-carbon gases by the end of 2035.
Gas and nuclear power generation would be labelled green on the grounds that they are “transitional” activities – defined as those that are not fully sustainable, but which have emissions below industry average and do not lock in polluting assets.
“Taking account of scientific advice and current technological progress as well as varying transition challenges across member states, the Commission considers there is a role for natural gas and nuclear as a means to facilitate the transition towards a predominantly renewable-based future,” the European Commission said in a statement.
To help states with varying energy backgrounds to transition, “under certain conditions, solutions can make sense that do not look exactly ‘green’ at first glance,” a Commission source told Reuters, adding that gas and nuclear investments would face “strict conditions”.
EU countries and a panel of experts will scrutinze the draft proposal, which could change before it is due to be published later in January. Once published, it could be vetoed by a majority of EU countries or the European Parliament.