Environmental policy: “We will need it”: Von der Leyen defends nuclear power decision

Ursula von der Leyen

The EU Commission chief is behind the classification of certain investments in nuclear power and gas as sustainable.

(Photo: AP)

Brussels For some it is a matter of course, for others a scandal, that nuclear power should help to achieve the climate targets. EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has now defended her proposal. She stands full of conviction behind the classification of certain investments in nuclear power and gas as sustainable, said the CDU politician in an interview with “Zeit”.

The Commission intends to do this in a legal act on taxonomy. The primary aim is to channel private capital into investments that contribute to the green transformation. The decision can also influence what state money is spent on, for example when it comes to promotional loans, subsidies or investments in gas-fired power plants by municipal operators.

Von der Leyen said of nuclear power and gas: “We will need them as long as there are not enough renewable energies such as green hydrogen.”

Because there is criticism of the Commission’s ideas, the Brussels authority is currently consulting the Member States before taking its decision. Governments have until January 21 to comment.

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Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) called nuclear power “unsustainable” on Wednesday. It is unclear whether the federal government will join the protests against the taxonomy. Austria, on the other hand, has even threatened a lawsuit.

Ferber worried about acceptance

The European Parliament is not consulted, which MPs are protesting against. They too have the opportunity to bring down the act. It is not certain that they will find a majority for this, but it is more likely than that the critical member states will succeed in the Council.

Markus Ferber (CSU), who is working on a common position for the European Parliament, says: “The European Commission should not accept the approval of Parliament as God-given.”

Among other things, he worries about the acceptance: “In Germany, no funds will be sold to the man who at the same time has a sustainability label and invests in nuclear energy.” The taxonomy would also include investments in extending the service life of existing nuclear power plants, which is a negotiating success for France President Emmanuel Macron is rated.

Critics therefore say that taxonomy promotes what it is actually supposed to prevent, namely so-called greenwashing, which describes what is actually not sustainable as sustainable.

“Anyone who wants to build gas-fired power plants in Eastern Europe will not be able to use the taxonomy. But maintaining old nuclear power plants will be financially viable, ”says the Greens MP Michael Bloss. “Macron ripped off the Eastern Europeans.”

In an interview, von der Leyen pointed out that in equity funds that are designated as sustainable, the share used to finance investments in gas and nuclear power must be shown.

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