Commission made a ‘big mistake’ labelling nuclear, gas ‘green’, says Spanish minister

Spanish Environment Minister Teresa Ribera speaks during the EU Environment ministers' council in Brussels, Belgium, 20 December 2021. [EPA-EFE/OLIVIER HOSLET]

The European Commission made a “big mistake” labelling nuclear and gas as “green investments” in Europe, Spain’s Ecological Transition Minister Teresa Ribera has said.

The European Commission on 2 February proposed including nuclear and gas power in the bloc’s sustainable finance taxonomy, recognising their contribution to the EU’s 2050 climate neutrality goal “subject to clear limits and phase-out periods”, EURACTIV’s partner EFE reported.

The new rules add gas and nuclear power as “transitional” technologies under the EU taxonomy and sets out new disclosure rules, with companies having to report yearly on compliance with green criteria, as reported by EURACTIV.

In an interview with the Spanish public TV broadcast ‘El Cafè d’idees’ on 4 February, Ribera advocated investment in renewables instead to achieve the goal of carbon neutrality by 2050 in the EU.

Concerning the threat expressed by Austria and Luxembourg to take the “green taxonomy” regulation to the European Court of Justice, Ribera responded that this decision requires, above all, a clear legal analysis before taking any action.

However, she did not comment if the Spanish government would be eager to support such legal action.

The minister pointed out that the seven Spanish nuclear power plants currently in operation will continue to be managed “with all the safety guarantees” so that this type of energy can continue to operate “without any doubt”, according to the planned timetable, and can be replaced by other less polluting alternative sources, she stated.

Ribera stressed “the merit” of having reached agreements with the owners of the seven nuclear power plants in Spain and with the public waste manager Enresa to ensure that the future dismantling of these facilities is carried out “with all the guarantees of safety” and “in an orderly manner”.

The important thing, she pointed out, is that these facilities continue to operate as planned, programming the shutdown scenario sufficiently in advance so that what has happened recently in France does not occur in Spain.

In France, she explained, “30% of nuclear facilities are inoperative” due to problems in structures “that have been in operation for decades”.

(Fernando. Heller | EuroEFE.EURACTIV.es)

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