What is behind the buzz of green energy in Europe?

What exactly is green? Governments around the world are now considering the importance of defining energy terminology in the transition to “green” in order to create clear and effective strategies. However, controversy has arisen over the inclusion of gas and nuclear power as part of EU investments in ‘green energy’, as environmentalists accuse the EU of greenwashing in its latest initiative, prompting many states to rethink their idea of ​​clean energy. While many world powers strive to eventually achieve net zero carbon emissions and reduce other greenhouse gases, many argue that they cannot simply replace one harmful practice with another. Europe has been praised for its rapid reduction in coal-based energy production and its overall leadership in the transition to renewable energies, notably at the COP26 climate summit last November. But as the region moves away from traditional fossil fuels, it must decide how best to transition to a cleaner future.

In its most recent draft energy plan, the EU decided to include natural gas and nuclear energy projects as “green” investments. This follows more than a year of debate among regional governments on what to include. The European Commission handed over its last technical rules to diplomats on 31st December, just hours before the deadline, leading many to accuse the body of attempting to bury the proposals. The Commission only allows eight working days for any response to the complex proposal.

If included, gas and nuclear power would fall under the ‘taxonomy of environmentally sustainable economic activities’, meaning that gas and nuclear companies could attract billions of investments from companies aimed at spending more funds for clean energy projects.

Environmental parties in the region accuse the European Commission of greenwashing, saying natural gas and nuclear energy projects are still harmful to the environment and climate and should not be included in tax exemptions. Prominent environmentalists, such as Greta Thunberg, have criticized the EU for its “bogus climate action”. And the Austrian government even went so far as to say it would sue the governing body if plans were to go ahead.

But other EU powers that continue to depend on nuclear power as their main source of energy, such as France, the Czech Republic and Hungary, are in favor of its inclusion. Some believe that natural gas, while still harmful, is necessary for bridging the gap in the transition to fully renewable energy sources. As such, gas would only be included in the plan in cases where “the same energy capacity cannot be generated from renewable sources”. Related: Gas Prices In Europe Skyrocket Again Amid New Cold Snap

Germany has declared its support for the use of natural gas when moving away from “dirtier” fossil fuels. A government spokesperson Explain, “For the German government, natural gas is an important intermediate technology (bridge) on the way to greenhouse gas neutrality in the context of phasing out nuclear energy and electricity generation charcoal. “

But also declared his opposition to the inclusion of nuclear power, “However, the government’s position on nuclear power remains unchanged. The government remains convinced that nuclear energy cannot be classified as sustainable and green, ”he added.

Meanwhile, Spain has expressed its opposition to the inclusion of gas and nuclear projects. A source from the Ministry of Ecological Transition noted, “Natural gas and nuclear [power] cannot be considered green or sustainable technologies in taxonomy regulations, regardless of the possibility of continuing to invest in both. A position which was later supported by Minister Teresa Ribera, “This makes no sense and sends the wrong signals for the energy transition of the whole of the EU”.

While the EU faces stiff criticism, with many of its public authorities at odds on how to proceed with the plan, other regions have yet to tackle the problem head-on. For example, in December 2021 White House briefing statement it was written: “electricity without carbon pollution” means electrical energy produced from resources that generate no carbon emissions, including marine, solar, wind, hydrokinetic (including tidal, wave, current and thermal), geothermal, hydroelectric, nuclear, hydrogen from renewable sources and the production of electric power from fossil resources as long as there is active capture and storage of carbon dioxide emissions that meet the EPA requirements.

In this assessment, along with nuclear power, traditional fossil fuel operations can also be considered “green” as long as they implement enough carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies to make them “neutral”. in carbon ”. Yet, according to the US Environmental Protection Agency, fossil fuels and nuclear energy fall under “conventional energy” rather than “green energy”.

The EU appears to be a test subject as to how a region will define “green” during the clean energy transition. As he creates a strategy for the future of energy investments in the region, other parts of the world look to Europe as a leader in the transition, to see how it deals with the complexities of terminological definitions, which could have significant financial repercussions and a ripple effect on the environment.

By Felicity Bradstock for Oil Octobers

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