An internal document to the European Commission (EC) proposing amendments to the EU Taxonomy has been released (see the Euractiv web URL below).
On 1 January, the EC announced that it had begun consultations on a draft delegated act, with the Platform on Sustainable Finance and a Member States sustainable finance expert group, as it is required to do under the taxonomy regulation.
The EC is apparently, according to the leaked document, proposing to classify natural gas and nuclear power as Green in the context of climate change-related objectives under the EU’s taxonomy framework, which includes a DNSH (Do No Significant Harm) principle… something which is not easy to associate with nuclear!!
Most of the world immediately got up in arms against such a blatant “mistake”, which would just show the EU bending over backwards to satisfy countries with a high dependence on Gas for their energy (such as Germany) or on Nuclear power plants (France obviously).
It is highly probable that the EC based its conclusions on a review and analysis produced by the JCR Science for Policy (see 2nd link below) published in March 2021.
However a 2nd review was led by the Scientific Committee on Health, Environmental and Emerging Risks (SCHEER), at the request of the EC.
The SCHEER published its conclusions on June 29th, 2021. And they are not exactly convergent with the JCR views, or with the EC proposal…
The SCHEER writes:
“The SCHEER is of the opinion that the findings and recommendations of the report with respect of the non-radiological impacts are in the main comprehensive. However, the SCHEER is of the opinion that there are several findings where the report is incomplete and requires to be enhanced with further evidence. For the DNSH criteria, in many cases the findings (comparing Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) to other energy generating technologies already in Taxonomy) are expressed as do less harm than at least one of the comparator technologies, which in the SCHEER view is different to “do no significant harm”. It is the opinion of the SCHEER that the comparative approach is not sufficient to ensure “no significant harm.”
“With regard to the Impact of radiation on the environment, the concept expressed is that “the standards of environmental control needed to protect the general public are likely to be sufficient to ensure that other species are not put at risk”. It is the opinion of the SCHEER that this statement is simplistic and does not allow estimation of the potential risks to the environment, without an assessment of the potential exposure of the different components of the ecosystems. In particular, with regard to protection of water and marine resources as well as biodiversity the notion that thermal pollution of seawater is less of a problem because of “practically infinite mixing” is not shared by the SCHEER since the potential problems in shallow coastal areas and vulnerable ecosystems (e.g. coral reefs) are overlooked.”
It remains to be seen how the EU (and the EC in particular) will deal with this situation, but it very much looks like they are ready to ignore scientific evidence in favour of political decisions…. Does that remind anyone of what happened during the Pandemic?? With the millions of deaths which ensued (and continue to pile up)?
European Commission leaked copy of the draft amendment to the Taxonomy: https://www.euractiv.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2022/01/draft-CDA-31-12-2021.pdf
EU JCR Technical Assessment of Nuclear Energy with respect to DNSH Criteria: https://snetp.eu/2021/04/07/jrc-concludes-nuclear-does-not-cause-significant-harm/