Is nuclear power a clean and sustainable energy? The answer might be different for each country, though it is definitely a yes for numerous Members of the European Parliament, where nearly 100 of them urged the European Commission to “adhere to the scientific evaluation results” and incorporate nuclear power into the Sustainable Finance Taxonomy.
The European Commission announced the “EU Sustainable Financial Action Plan” in March 2018, which aimed to establish a common legal framework for the EU, as well as categorized economic activities based on environmental sustainability, and decided which economic activities should be classified as sustainable investment.
Experts and consultants of the EU are divided on whether nuclear power should be regarded as a sustainable energy. Although it contains the lowest level of carbon dioxide emission, additional analysis on the disposal of nuclear waste and its impact on the environment is required during the current stage. FORATOM has recently composed a joint letter with 87 Members of the European Parliament to the European Commission which claimed that the scientific evidence on nuclear power should be trustworthy.
Members of the European Parliament pointed out in the letter the importance of scientific evaluation on nuclear power, and claimed that the existing legal framework is already able to protect the environment and public health, which conforms to the requirements of the classification regulations. The members urged the commission to emphasize scientific data and not discriminate nuclear power. Yves Desbazeille, the Director General of FORATOM, commented that the EU only has 30 years to achieve carbon neutrality through sustainability, and hopes that member countries who oppose nuclear power based on political reasons will not impede those who wish to invest in the low-carbon nuclear energy.
As mentioned in the letter, there are currently three reports from various experts that have derived a similar conclusion. The March report of the Joint Research Centre pointed out that technical evaluation shows insignificant damages from nuclear power; the latest Article 31 and SCHEER reports have also corroborated with the investigation of the JRC, proving that the existing legal framework is more than enough to provide a protection on public health and the environment.
The Members of the European Parliament pointed out in the joint letter that they are happy to see the investigation results from JRC and the other two scientific committees; they believe all of the related environmental issues had underwent scientific evaluations from the aspects of environmental science, nuclear safety, and nuclear waste disposal. The letter also mentioned that there are a number of member countries who have zero nuclear power plants—or are gradually eliminating nuclear power—that possess apparent political intentions, and are trying to persuade the European Commission to oppose nuclear power by ignoring all scientific conclusions.
They believe that the classification regulations should adhere to the principle of “not causing major damages” in climate neutrality. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change once pointed out that nuclear power is a key element in alleviating climate change, and now a similar conclusion has been reached among experts and institutions. The Members of the European Parliament hope that the European Commission has enough courage to stipulate EU regulations that will avoid impacting the investment on nuclear power or other non-fossil fuel technology.
(Cover photo source: Flickr/Tennessee Valley Authority CC BY 2.0)