Scholz silent as progressive lawmakers weigh in on EU taxonomy debate

Future German Chancellor Scholz is in the midst of the German-centric anti-nuclear EU taxonomy scramble, as he is barely seen in neither EU or domestic politics. EPA-EFE/MAJA HITIJ / POOL

As the European Commission prepares a proposal to classify nuclear power and gas in the EU’s sustainable finance taxonomy, progressive lawmakers in Germany and the European Parliament have released a joint statement to weigh in on the debate.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the EU executive would soon table proposals on gas and nuclear as part of the bloc’s sustainable finance taxonomy, a set of rules designed to provide investors with a common definition of what is green and what is not.

“We need more renewables. They are cheaper, carbon-free and homegrown,” von der Leyen wrote on Twitter after an EU summit in October where leaders debated the bloc’s response to rising energy prices.

“We also need a stable source, nuclear, and during the transition, gas,” she added. “This is why we will come forward with our taxonomy proposal”.

Ahead of the proposal, national governments, lawmakers and campaigners of all kinds are raising the pressure on the Commission. 

“The EU Commission now wants to call investments in new nuclear and gas power plants ‘sustainable’ and that is an impertinence and untrustworthy before the world community,” says Lisa Badum, the longtime climate policy spokesperson of the Greens in the German parliament.

“We call on the EU Commission to put its plans on ice,” she said, adding to the chorus of voices bemoaning the Commission’s intention to present the taxonomy proposal before the next German government is formed.

The letter, signed by Green MEP Michael Bloss and other progressive lawmakers in the European Parliament, marks another attempt by nuclear opponents to keep atomic energy out of the EU’s green finance rules.

It follows a joint declaration by the energy ministers of five EU countries, including Germany’s Svenja Schulze, who banded together last week to reiterate their opposition to nuclear power.

Five EU countries form anti-nuclear alliance at COP26

In face of a French-led push to revive nuclear power in Europe, a group of five EU countries led by Germany have banded together to urge the European Commission to keep nuclear out of the EU’s green finance taxonomy.

On Monday (15 November) 129 climate NGOs from all over Europe signed an open letter to would-be German chancellor and acting finance minister Olaf Scholz, who has been criticised for his reluctance to weigh in as long as the coalition negotiations in Berlin are ongoing.

“In your role as current Finance Minister and future Chancellor, we call on you to swiftly and decisively confirm the German veto against labelling nuclear as a sustainable form of energy,” reads the statement signed by Friends of the Earth Europe, Climate Action Network and BUND.

“Highlight that the Commission’s attempt to shape this discussion during the sensitive time of a new government being formed in Germany is not acceptable,” the NGOs add.

According to Greens and left-wing lawmakers, the silence of the German chancellor-in-waiting has contributed to the revival of nuclear power in Europe. 

Scholz has had oversight over the EU’s green finance rules for years in his role as German finance minister and his refusal to clarify Germany’s position on the issue of nuclear and gas is indirectly responsible for the current scramble, an EU lawmaker told EURACTIV.

Green MEP: Germany 'may need some additional gas turbines' to stabilise renewables

Sven Giegold, a Green MEP who is one of the key negotiators in the German government coalition talks, told EURACTIV that Germany will need “small volumes” of additional gas capacity in order to “stabilise” renewable power on the electricity grid. However, he is opposed to the inclusion of gas in the EU’s green finance taxonomy.

> Read the joint declaration by progressive lawmakers in German and English below:

211114Declarationontaxonomy

[Edited by Frédéric Simon]

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