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Spain is a “firm defender” of the green taxonomy as a key element for common references that can be used by investors to reach climate neutrality by 2050, according to the department headed by Spanish vice-president and minister for Ecological Transition, Teresa Ribera. But the minister warned within this objective, “admitting nuclear and natural gas as part of the European green taxonomy would be a step backwards”. Ms Ribera said: “Regardless of whether investments can continue to be made in one or the other, we consider that they are not green or sustainable energies.”
In response to the draft proposed by the European Commission, she responded: “It makes no sense and sends the wrong signals for the energy transition of the EU as a whole.”
Spain has said both nuclear energy and natural gas can indeed play a role in the transition to decarbonisation and reaching climate neutrality by 2050.
Ms Ribera added: “They should be treated separately and not as green, where there are other key energies for decarbonisation and without risk or environmental damage.”
The European Green Pact regulatory framework states the green taxonomy regulation aims to steer companies and investors in their decarbonisation plans.
It also aims to find economic activities that are environmentally sustainable as well as identifying sectors that help with the reduction of CO2, methane and other gases linked to climate change.
The regulatory framework is also trying to channel these funding boosts towards the sectors that are considered vital for reaching the climate neutrality goal by 2050.
But Spain has argued in order to achieve those objectives, the taxonomy must be “credible, useful and based on scientific evidence”.
According to the Ministry, the key to considering an economic activity, sector or technology as ‘green’ includes its “substantial contribution to the main environmental goals of the EU, such as mitigating climate change”.
It must also respect the principle of “Do No Significant Harm”.
Spain has insisted: “Methane emissions from natural gas generation and the issue of waste from nuclear power call into question the inclusion of both technologies in the EU’s green taxonomy.”
The Mediterranean powerhouse also claims including both in the green taxonomy “sends the wrong signal to financial markets and does not provide the necessary clarity to focus capital flows towards the decarbonised, resilient and sustainable economy envisaged in the European Green Pact”.
This is the latest blow to the EU after German Environment Minister Steffi Lemke and German Economics Minister Robert Habeck, both members of the Green party, rejected the proposals to classify nuclear energy as a sustainable energy.
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Ms Lemke said: “I think it is absolutely wrong that the European Commission intends to include nuclear energy in the EU classification for sustainable economic activities,” as a form of energy that could lead to “devastating environmental disasters and leaves large amounts of hazardous and highly radioactive waste for thousands of years, so it cannot be sustainable”.
Mr Habeck, who is also climate minister, added: “The Commission’s proposals dilute the good label of sustainability.
“From our point of view, there is no possible approval of the Commission’s new proposals.
“In any case, it is questionable whether this greenwashing will be accepted by the financial market.”
Like Germany, EU neighbour Austria has also warned it will reject the project.
Austrian climate protection minister Leonore Gewessler said: “The Commission took a step towards greenwashing nuclear energy and fossil gases.”
Additional reporting by Maria Ortega.
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