Nuclear energy not an ecologically sustainable investment

Redeker Sellner Dahs prepares study for Austrian Ministry of Climate Protection

Bonn, 28 September 2021. The Austrian Federal Ministry for Climate Protection, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology has commissioned the law firm Redeker Sellner Dahs to examine whether the production of nuclear energy meets the criteria laid down in the so‑​called EU Taxonomy Regulation. The Taxonomy Regulation establishes uniform criteria throughout Europe as to whether or which economic activities are to be classified as environmentally sustainable. In order to be classified as sustainable, an economic activity must, among other things, make a significant contribution to an environmental objective (such as climate protection) and must not lead to a significant impairment of other environmental objectives.

The firm's expert opinion comes to a clear conclusion: the production of nuclear energy does not fall under the Taxonomy Regulation. Redeker lawyers Dr Simone Lünenbürger, Dr Matthias Kottmann, Maître en Droit and Dr Korbinian Reiter, LL.M. (Paris 1 – Panthéon Sorbonne) have concluded that nuclear energy does not make a significant contribution to an environmental objective within the meaning of the Regulation. While it is true that nuclear energy is often regarded as a low‑​CO2 form of electricity generation, this is not sufficient, however, in terms of the system employed by the regulation. Moreover, on the basis of studies obtained by the EU, it cannot be ruled out that nuclear power generation impacts other environmental objectives.

With the Taxonomy Regulation, the EU is seeking to create transparency as regards which economic activities can be considered “environmentally sustainable” against the background of the “New Green Deal”. The aim is to reorient and steer private investment in the direction of environmentally sustainable projects, businesses and technologies in order to generate sustainable and integrative growth.

Out of the 27 EU States, 14 currently rely on nuclear energy. While France, for example, advocates inclusion of nuclear energy in the European taxonomy, Austria, Germany, Spain, Denmark and Luxembourg are against it. If the EU follows the study's assessment, investments in nuclear energy, for example, cannot be promoted as “ecologically sustainable”.

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