European Nuclear Society voice on a classification system for sustainable economic activities

As a scientific society of 12.000 nuclear experts, representing academia, research institutes and industry, we strongly support the EU climate neutrality 2050 goal. We are ready to put our efforts and contribute as well to the 2030 CO2 reduction emission objective of at least 55%, approved recently on 11 December at the EU Summit. In this regard, we are convinced that these EU short- and long-term targets are only achievable with all low-carbon technologies, nuclear included.

We welcome the initiatives and instruments that are proposed for the Financial Sector to enable the Green Transition. It will be a crucial tool for investors to guide finance in the right direction. However, the Taxonomy Regulation, should provide investors with reliable and evidence-based information on which activities and technologies contribute to the sustainability goals.

The EU Technical Expert Group (TEG) on Taxonomy concluded that there is clear evidence that nuclear substantially contributes to climate mitigation. The Do-No-Significant-Harm (DNSH) criteria in the TEG assessment needs to remain for all energy technologies strictly technical and conducted by qualified experts, free from political and ideological agendas.

We, as a scientific community in nuclear, feel a strong need to underline the following facts to the EU TEG on Taxonomy:

  • Nuclear currently provides more than 47 % of the low-carbon electricity generation in the EU. Without nuclear, there will be half a billion tonnes of extra CO2 emissions every year in Europe, which is more than the emissions of the UK or France alone;
  • According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) figures, with 12g of CO2/KWh, nuclear life-cycle emissions are equal to those of wind power and are four times lower than solar power. The IPCC analysis for nuclear includes the whole life cycle, including uranium mining, enrichment and fuel fabrication, plant construction, use, decommissioning and long-term waste management;
  • based on the IPCC figures, the levelized cost of energy (LCOE) clearly show that nuclear energy cost is on average half of solar or offshore wind and comparable to onshore wind;
  • both IAEA and EU regulatory framework ensure that nuclear power plants comply with the highest safety standards. The framework applies to the full nuclear life-cycle including the management of nuclear waste and ensures that nuclear waste is safely managed in the long-term. Interim storage solutions that are fully operational worldwide are licensed by competent authorities, comply with the highest safety regimes, are developed in a transparent manner and undergo strict environmental impact assessments;
  • at the same time, the nuclear industry under strict safety regulations, already commences delivering facilities to safely dispose nuclear waste in the long term. The European Commission has recently acknowledged that Finland, France and Sweden are advancing their solutions for long term storage of high-level waste

Nuclear power is an important and established power source for European citizens and industries and is crucial for the stability of energy systems. The existing strict regulatory regime defines the “Do No Significant Harm” principle for nuclear sector and guarantees that nuclear power plants are operated in a safe and sustainable manner, including their decommissioning and spent fuel management.

Therefore we call on the Commission to follow-up on the TEG Report and to adapt the Delegated Acts so nuclear is included for potential financial support under the Green Deal objectives. The TEG assessment must be based on scientific evidence and should not be influenced by any political or ideological agenda. Fighting climate change is a matter of the highest urgency, all low-carbon energy sources must be allowed to contribute, and the final Taxonomy on Sustainable Finance must respect these points.