Energy & Environment

Germany calls nuclear power ‘dangerous’ after EU proposal to classify it as renewable

Nuclear power plant, Sept. 8, 2021.

The German government on Monday said it will reject a European Union plan classifying some forms of nuclear energy as renewable, calling the technology “dangerous.”

The EU announced the proposal Sunday, saying the European Commission “considers there is a role for natural gas and nuclear as a means to facilitate the transition towards a predominantly renewable-based future.”

“[T]his would mean classifying these energy sources under clear and tight conditions (for example, gas must come from renewable sources or have low emissions by 2035), in particular as they contribute to the transition to climate neutrality,” the commission added.

On Monday, however, German government spokesperson Steffen Hebestreit told reporters “[w]e consider nuclear technology to be dangerous” and said the government “expressly rejects” designating it as a renewable, according to The Associated Press.

Germany has repeatedly emphasized that nuclear energy can only be considered a renewable power source if there is a plan to dispose of nuclear waste, according to The New York Times.

Hebestreit’s comments echo those of German Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck, who also serves as climate and economic minister. In a statement to the German news agency dpa, Habeck said “we can’t foresee an approval for the new proposals from the EU Commission.”

Habeck went on to decry the proposed classification as “greenwashing,” or misrepresenting environmentally destructive practices as beneficial.

The designation, he said, “obscures the long-term effects on people and the environment [and] the highly radioactive nuclear waste will pollute us for centuries.”

Germany on Friday shut down three of its six nuclear plants as part of a shift toward renewable energy and natural gas. The country is set to phase out the other three by the end of the year. Nuclear power comprised only about 12 percent of electricity generation, while 41 percent was generated by renewables, 28 percent from coal and 15 percent from gas.

Tags climate policy Germany Nuclear power Renewable energy
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