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  • Rovindu Ambagolla

Triple Bottom Tuesday >>> Is Nuclear Truly Green? Let the Debate Begin

Picture Credit: Nicolas Hippert

The European Union has recently come up with a proposal to increase investments in nuclear power and natural gas. This proposal to increase investments in nuclear and natural gas projects is being used as a “bridge” by the EU to transition their current energy dependency onto less emission producing sources. However, the proposal is facing some heavy criticism.

The proposal stems from the European Union’s ambitious goal of achieving climate neutrality by mid-century. Even though the proposal intends to reduce the level of greenhouse gas emissions expelled by the bloc, many green political parties are completely against the proposal. This disparity between the parties has caused deep division amongst member states.

Green parties in both Luxemburg and Austria condemned the new proposal and argued that it would achieve the opposite and reduce the investment in renewable energy. Opposition members to the proposal are pressuring the European Commission to modify the proposal, as they understand that it will be extremely difficult to overturn it at a later stage. The scrutiny procedure however is unlikely to succeed as at least 20 member states are required to reject the proposal, and as several key EU countries including France support the nuclear deal, it is unlikely to be rejected.

Leonore Gewessler, Austria’s climate change and energy minister commented in a fiery statement that “greenwashing atomic fuel and fossil gas is completely unacceptable”, in a recent radio interview.

Germany is also not convinced by the new proposal. Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s chief spokesman, Steffen Hebestreit commented that they “consider nuclear energy to be dangerous”, and Germany is already on track to close its remaining three nuclear power plants. Berlin is looking to rely heavily on natural gasses opposed to nuclear energy to reduce emissions until it can be replaced by a renewable source of energy.

Picture Credit: Kilian Karger

Countries in favour of the proposal have also put forth valid arguments. The Commission stated that it will invest in both natural gas and nuclear-powered sources of energy to replace coal, which is the most pollutant fossil fuel. Mika Lintila, Finland’s minister of economic affairs, commented, “The green transition is the best thing that’s happening right now… Its driving global investments at the moment, but it must be done in a way that’s realistic and without destroying Europe’s competitiveness”.

Nuclear energy has both its benefits and its drawbacks, but this argument has pitted EU nations against each other as they disagree on whether to cut down investments in the technology or find alternative routes to solve the issue instead.

January 4th 2022 | 9:10 PM

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