The UK and Ireland Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) has joined with its European partner organisations, the Cities for a Nuclear Free Europe and the Alliance of Regions for Phasing-out Nuclear Power across Europe; in supporting the Nuclear Consulting Group (NCG) and 53 other groups in their call on the European Commission to not finance future nuclear power developments. (1)
The Communiqué responds to a recently published document by the European Commission on the rules for sustainable finance, known as the EU taxonomy. The new rules are intended to identify economic activities that can be considered economically and environmentally sustainable as the EU gears up all of its policies to tackle the climate emergency. As a core part of this, the EU Taxonomy Technical Expert Group (TEG) delivered their final recommendations to the Commission; excluding nuclear from the Sustainable Finance Taxonomy ‘at this stage’, stating that ‘it was not possible to conclude the nuclear energy value chain does not cause significant harm to other environmental objectives on the time scales in question’.
In essence, this policy position means that at present the EU should not finance any new nuclear power projects. This has led to an internal discussion within the EU and those member states who do support nuclear power trying to reverse this decision.
To ensure that the European Commission does not change this policy position, a consortium of 53 pan-EU organisations, institutions and NGOs, led by the NCG, have written to the European Commission Executive Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis, Commissioner Kadri Simson, and Executive Vice President Frans Timmermans.
The key points of the joint communique to the European Commission include:
- New nuclear is a far more expensive endeavour then renewable energy schemes.
- Nuclear plants pose an unacceptable risk. Even when the probability of incidents remains low, the consequences of such an incident would be disastrous, as Fukushima has shown for Japan.
- The probability of a nuclear incident or accident has increased and will continue to increase, due to aging plants, rising sea-levels and climate change impacts.
- The carbon footprint of nuclear (including mining, operation, plant dismantling, waste treatment) is higher than that of renewable power.
- Despite 70 years of operation and research, the nuclear industry has still not found a solution for the reduction or long-term storage of nuclear waste.
- Building new nuclear requires far too much time to make any real contribution to carbon neutrality in Europe by 2050 or earlier.
- The supporting groups also call for the European Commission to stay with the EUTEG Taxonomy recommendations – that, essentially, nuclear does not meet the criteria for sustainable investment.
The letter urges the European Commission not to consider forming any further technical working group to consider the nuclear issue in the context of sustainability criteria. At present, nuclear power plants already cost too much and divert political attention away from crucial zero-carbon renewable energy investments across the continent.
NFLA has consistently called for energy investment in the UK and Ireland to be concentrated entirely on developing a wide renewable energy mix, supporting energy efficiency programmes, smart energy and energy storage schemes. In our view, this is the most effective policy tool to deliver zero carbon policies across the UK and Ireland as soon as possible and practical.
UK and Ireland NFLA Steering Committee Chair, Councillor David Blackburn said:
“NFLA is delighted to join with its European partners, the Nuclear Consulting Group, and other environmental and anti-nuclear groups from across the EU to show its solidarity in creating a renewable-rich Europe, and not to waste time and finite resources on new nuclear. The impressive list of signatories to this letter shows the strong level of support for the decision made by the European Commission, as well as the concern that pro-nuclear states may try to reverse it. With climate change models emphasising that the urgency to deliver zero-carbon projects is now more important than ever, European Governments have to prioritise cheaper, cleaner, sustainable and more easily to deploy renewable energy, heating and transport solutions. This communiqué tells them to hold their nerve and work in the same way that many European towns and cities are already doing – delivering renewable, sustainable energy to tackle the climate emergency.”
Ends – for more information please contact Sean Morris, NFLA Secretary, on 00 44 (0)161 234 3244.
Notes for Editors: