Germany to reject EU green investment label for nuclear power

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A general view of the nuclear power plant, whose last unit will be shut down at the turn of the year, in Gundremmingen, Germany, December 29, 2021. REUTERS/Lukas Barth

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BRUSSELS, May 16 (Reuters) - Germany will oppose European Union plans to include nuclear energy as a sustainable investment in its "taxonomy" policy for labelling green investments, the government said on Monday.

Brussels is seeking approval from EU countries and European Parliament for its plan to label gas and nuclear as climate-friendly investments, which has split opinion among states who disagree on the fuels' green credentials.

Germany, the EU's biggest economy, is among those planning to reject it when countries come to vote on the plan in the coming weeks.

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"The Federal Government has expressed its opposition to the taxonomy rules on nuclear power. This 'no' is an important political signal that makes clear: Nuclear energy is not sustainable and should therefore not be part of the taxonomy," Germany's environment ministry and its economy and climate ministry said in a statement.

"Accordingly, the Federal Government would vote for the Council to object to the EU Commission's delegated legal act," the ministries said.

To reject the rules, 20 of the EU's 27 countries must oppose it - a high threshold seen as unlikely to be reached. Germany's stance could also steer opinion in the European Parliament, however, where a majority of the assembly's 705 lawmakers could block the gas and nuclear rules in a July vote. read more

The EU's sustainable finance taxonomy was designed to provide a "gold standard" for green investing, by limiting which investments can be labelled climate-friendly to only those that truly protect the planet.

Nuclear energy generation is CO2-free, but produces radioactive waste. Separately, Austria and Luxembourg have threatened legal action over the plan to label nuclear investments as green.

The plan to label gas as climate-friendly has faced criticism from countries including Spain, although some countries had lobbied hard for the taxonomy to incentivise gas investments to help them phase out coal. Gas emits less CO2 than coal when burned, but is also associated with leaks of methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

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Reporting by Kate Abnett

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