The European Atomic Forum (Foratom) has welcomed the European Commission’s decision to appoint the Joint Research Centre (JRC) as the group of experts which will assess nuclear under the sustainable finance taxonomy.
The EC, in a communication on this issue in June said it considers that the credibility of this assessment to be crucial. “It should be scientifically rigorous, transparent and bring together a balanced set of views. It should also reflect the principle of technological neutrality, as included in the Taxonomy Regulation,” the document specified.
France and the UK had previously blocked an agreement on the green finance taxonomy, arguing it failed to recognise the environmental benefits of nuclear power, which emits almost no greenhouse gases blamed for global warming.
The report by the JRC will be reviewed by experts on radiation protection and waste management under Article 31 of the Euratom Treaty, as well as by experts on environmental impacts from an equivalent Commission environmental group or committee, the Commission indicated.
“This shows that they have taken recommendations that nuclear be assessed by scientific experts seriously”, said Foratom's director general Yves Desbazeille. “This is something which many stakeholders – including industry, several member states and MEPs – have been calling for over the past year.” Foratom said it supports this approach as it will enable a robust, science-based assessment of nuclear.
However, “this process is not expected to conclude before the beginning of 2021,” the Commission added, noting that work would meanwhile continue on the assessment of other “green” technologies under the sustainable finance taxonomy. Once the work is completed, the EC will decide whether nuclear does qualify as a sector eligible for sustainable finance.
Noting that the EC Directorate-General for Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union (DG FISMA) had indicated that the work would not be completed before 2021, Foratom said “that it will not be ready in time for the delegated acts (DAs) relating to climate mitigation and adaptation”.
Desbazeille said: “Foratom regrets the fact that the assessment will not be ready in time.“Whilst the Commission has indicated that it may consider revising these DAs in 2021 to potentially reintroduce nuclear, we would recommend that the evaluation of the energy sector should be postponed until the assessment of nuclear is complete. Otherwise, it risks distorting the market by enabling some technologies to access relevant funds before others”.