Impact of nuclear energy needs further study before getting green label, EU says


By Kate Abnett and Simon Jessop

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union should do more research into the potential damage caused by nuclear energy before deciding whether to label it a sustainable investment, one of two expert committees tasked with evaluate the green credentials of the fuel.

Brussels is considering whether or not to include nuclear energy in its taxonomy of sustainable finance, a list of economic activities that will define from next year those that can be qualified as green investments.

The EU’s science arm said in March that nuclear power should get a green label.

However, given the disagreement among other experts on whether its low CO2 emissions compensate for a lack of analysis on the environmental impact of radioactive waste disposal, two expert committees were subsequently appointed review its findings.

Environmental experts from the Scientific Committee on Health, Environmental and Emerging Risks (SCHEER) on Friday said they supported many of the initial report’s findings, but were concerned about others.

To be considered green, activities must “not harm” specific environmental goals, but SCHEER said the original report instead examined whether nuclear would “do less harm” than other energy technologies.

“It is SCHEER’s opinion that the comparative approach is not sufficient to guarantee ‘no significant harm’,” he said in his report, published on the Commission’s website.

The second report, written by an expert group on radiation protection and waste management, largely supported the initial findings.

The Commission said it would now act on the findings of the two expert reports.

“The inclusion of nuclear in the taxonomy regulation has been the subject of intense debate,” a spokesperson said in comments sent by email.

“While nuclear power is consistently recognized as a low-carbon energy source, opinions differ notably on the potential impact on other environmental goals, such as the environmental impact of nuclear waste. “

EU countries are divided over nuclear power, with some, including France, Hungary and Poland, in favor of fuel, while others, including Austria, against it.

(Edited by Jan Harvey)

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