Spain rejects Brussels’ plan to classify nuclear power and natural gas as green energy

Spain is rejecting the European Commission’s proposal to classify nuclear energy and natural gas-powered plants as green technology.

In a statement released on Saturday, the Commission said it had begun consulting with EU member states on a text that will later be sent to the European Parliament and Council for scrutiny. The document is part of the EU Taxonomy, a rule book to channel investment toward activities meant to help achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions over the next three decades.

But the Spanish government, led by a center-left coalition of the Socialist Party (PSOE) and Unidas Podemos, has already made it clear that it objects to the new definition of green investment.

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“Natural gas and nuclear [power] cannot be considered green or sustainable technologies in the Taxonomy regulations, regardless of the possibility of making continued investments in both,” said a source at Spain’s Ministry for the Ecological Transition. This position was later confirmed by a ministry statement. “It makes no sense and it sends the wrong signals for the energy transition of the whole of the EU,” said Minister Teresa Ribera in the statement.

Instead, the ministry noted, Spain defends putting nuclear energy and natural gas plants in “a yellow, intermediate category due to their role in the transition, but without being considered green.”

Nuclear energy does not produce greenhouse gas emissions, but managing radioactive waste poses unique problems. And combined-cycle plants powered by natural gas have much lower carbon dioxide (CO₂) emissions than coal plants, but they still run on a fossil fuel.

In the 60-page legal draft that Brussels has sent to member states, and to which EL PAÍS has had access, new and existing nuclear plants that meet certain conditions would be considered sustainable investments until 2045. Combined-cycle plants running on natural gas would be in the same category until 2030. Both types of energy are included in the EU Taxonomy’s second category, reserved for power sources with low carbon emissions and no available alternative for the moment.

“Including both in the green taxonomy represents an erroneous signal for the financial markets and does not provide the necessary clarity to focus capital flows towards the decarbonized, resilient and sustainable economy foreseen in the European Green Deal,” said the Spanish ministry’s statement.


Tags: Green Energy, Natural Gas, Spain, Wind Power
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