Australian news, and some related international items

Is nuclear sustainable? Read the label

[Ed. For a while they tried calling nuclear ”amber”, but that didn’t work – they’ve settle for ”sort of green”]

By DEBRA KAHN , 07/08/2022,

SHADES OF GREEN — The European Union broadened its definition of sustainable energy this week to include things not everyone agrees on — and triggered a fight.

The vote to include natural gas and nuclear power in the list of activities the EU is trying to encourage private investors to support was billed as a “pragmatic approach.” It’s also backed by Ukrainian officials, who say it should help reduce reliance on Russian gas.

But it’s getting major pushback — from scientists, sustainable investor groups and the European Commission’s own finance advisers, who argue the rules will divert money from truly green projects to prop up legacy industries and allow emissions to rise further, as POLITICO’s America Hernandez reports.

Under the new rules, countries heavily reliant on coal and oil for electricity will be able to replace them with less-polluting gas-fired power through 2030 and advertise the switch as sustainable to investors, as long as the plants switch to a clean-burning fuel like hydrogen by 2035 and respect a 20-year cap on greenhouse gas emissions.

Existing nuclear plants, which produce CO2-free electricity, will also get to be called climate-friendly if operators draw up safety plans showing where their radioactive waste will be permanently stored by 2050 and switch to so-called accident-tolerant fuels by 2025.

Activist investor groups are warning that watering down the sustainable designation will backfire.

“Calling gas sustainable, even as a ‘transition’ fuel, will not convince climate-change conscious investors, and it will make the taxonomy lose its usefulness as a tool to orient capital flows towards sustainable economic activities,” said Thierry Philipponnat, chief economist at watchdog group Finance Watch.

The United Nations’ Principles for Responsible Investment, which represents more than 5,000 investors managing €167 trillion ($169 trillion right now — great time to go to Europe) in sustainable assets, warned that blindly trusting the EU’s green labels “could prompt fragmentation across the market and lead to potential greenwashing.”

NUCLEAR RENAISSANCE PT. II — U.S. environmentalists were similarly dismayed this week by Pacific Gas & Electric’s announcement that it will try to keep California’s remaining nuclear plant open past its planned retirement.

A PG&E spokesperson told the San Diego Union-Tribune that the utility plans to apply for an Energy Department grant aimed at helping keep nuclear plants open. Diablo Canyon accounts for almost 9 percent of the state’s electricity generation, and officials are worried about reliability this summer and in years to come.

The move follows support from Gov. Gavin Newsom and lawmakers in last week’s state budget to fund agency power purchases from Diablo Canyon and natural gas plants when supplies run low. It’s an about-face from 2016, when environmentalists and labor unions representing plant workers came to a state-approved agreement to shut down the plant starting in 2024.

(NB: Diablo would have stayed open had California decided to let nuclear count toward its green electricity requirements in 2015.)

“Instead of propping up outmoded nuclear plants, Newsom should instead be providing more resources and funding to deploy renewable energy infrastructure across California,” Sierra Club California director Brandon Dawson said in a statement.

Austria, Luxembourg and green groups have already said they’ll sue the European Commission over its new rules. California environmentalists may also try suing to enforce the closure agreement, the SDUT reports.

July 9, 2022 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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