President Emmanuel Macron said he favours “nuclear power being integrated into the taxonomy” on green finance in an address before the European Committee of the Regions on Wednesday (1 December). EURACTIV France reports.
The French leader said he was taking a position based on experts from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), for whom “nuclear power is one of the solutions to decarbonise our economies”.
Macron backed up his argument by stressing the intermittent nature of renewable energies.
“Our strategy is to decarbonise our economies. To do this, we need renewable energies,” he said, noting that these are “intermittent, and thus not totally substitutable, even with our interconnections [in Europe], for non-intermittent sources of electricity production” such as gas or nuclear power.
However, according to him, nuclear is among the energy sources that “emit the least CO2”. “Gas produces more CO2; nuclear is much better,” he added.
With the bloc’s priority being the phase-out of fossil fuels, starting with the most polluting coal, Macron said states would move towards gas and nuclear.
“We no longer have any gas in our soil” in Europe, the head of state also said. “Consuming more gas means importing Russian or Turkish gas,” he added, arguing that this would lead to “a situation of increased dependence”.
To round off his speech, Macron called nuclear power the “sovereign solution”. “Nuclear power is a sovereign solution; that’s why I defend the argument of a nuclear power integrated into the taxonomy,” he added.
The European Commission is due to comment in the next few days on the classification of nuclear within the EU’s green finance taxonomy.
Earlier this week, the EU’s energy commissioner, Kadri Simson, called for a “gearshift on investments” in nuclear power to extend the lifetime of existing power plants and maintain current production levels until 2050.
According to Simson, “the terms of the conversation around nuclear energy in Europe are changing” because of the climate emergency, which requires baseload low-carbon electricity to complement variable renewables and technological developments such as small modular reactors.
[Edited by Frédéric Simon/ Alice Taylor]