Neither with ecological label, nor without it. Spain will stick to its guns and, despite the decision of the European Commission (EC) to grant the category of “green” energy to natural gas and nuclear, it advances that it will not provide funds for new installations. During an interview with Ràdio4 and La2, the Minister for the Ecological Transition and Third Vice President, Theresa Rivera, assured that the government will not finance new nuclear power plants or gas infrastructure.
The socialist went further and called it a mistake to put gas or nuclear energy and other alternatives in the same “sustainable” drawer that are “clearly favorable to decarbonization without risks.” For this reason, the Spanish Executive assesses the possibility of presenting an appeal before the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) against the decision of the EC.
“Requires a legal analysis. Politically we have it perfectly clear. From the point of view of understanding, of the signals they give, we believe it is a mistake”, insisted Ribera, who advanced, in any case, that Spain has proposed to maintain “a higher standard”.
If we finally take the step and go to the CJEU, Spain would join other European governments that, like Austria, have made clear their intention to file appeals against the Brussels decision. Announcing the measure, its Minister for the Environment, Leonore Gewessler, already showed his confidence that the executives of Luxembourg, Denmark or Spain, who have publicly opposed granting nuclear energy and gas the “green” seal, would join in with similar initiatives.
“The fact that the Commission has done this as a regulatory development, regardless of the Council’s decision, is not good. We are not going to finance new nuclear, we are not going to finance new gas infrastructures”, stressed the head of Ecological Transition, During the Interview.
His statements come just a few days after the EC approved the inclusion of both energies in its “green taxonomy”, a decision in line with what some countries of the Union are requesting. The measure can still lie down throughout its processing, although meeting certain requirements.
It could happen, for example, if during your vote in the European Parliament you receive the rejection of 353 MEPs or if at least 20 countries representing at least 65% of the EU population are opposed. Faced with the outright rejection shown by Spain or Austria, there are other alternative positions. France, for example, defend nuclear energy Y germany gas.
The measure is not a mere procedure, a formality or a simple question of definitions with symbolic value. The “green taxonomy” aims to offer a guide that can direct investment in the energy sector, so it seeks to facilitate financing. The label is not in any case a blank check. New nuclear plants, for example, will have to adjust their calendar and their construction permit will have to be prior to 2040. In the case of third-generation plants, that limit extends to 2045. SMRs do not have a deadline. Something similar happens with gas, although in its case maximum emissions are set: 270 g of CO2 equivalent per kilowatt hour.
In the background is the target set on the EU Green Deal: achieve climate neutrality by 2050, an aim that, according to some voices like that of the European Commissioner for the Internal Market, the Frenchman Thierry Breton, it will be difficult to achieve without the support of nuclear energy. “The figures are there,” he insists. In fact, the EC justifies including gas and nuclear as a “bridge” towards the energy transition and achieving the main challenge: reduce coal use.
At the opposite pole are those who question whether we should consider the energies that the EC has just backed as “green”. “Neither nuclear power nor gas meet the scientific and legal criteria to be considered sustainable or receive the same treatment as unquestionably green technologies, such as wind or solar, and lead in the opposite direction to the priorities of a decarbonization process of the economy. without environmental risks”, Ribera emphasized days ago.
Pictures | Gretchen Mahan (Flickr)