…on the other side of the Channel (and especially in Germany). Or so Politico (among others) reports. The situation is covered by EU legislation which, in the inimitable style of the Brussels Eurocrats, runs to fifteen pages. You would have to be something of a masochist to read it all, but probably the key section can be found in the last two paragraphs of section 1.1 (General background and objective):
Moreover, to enhance market transparency and the information of investors, this Delegated Act provides for specific disclosure requirements for the natural gas and nuclear energy sectors by amending the Taxonomy Disclosures Delegated Act. As outlined in the Taxonomy Regulation, the Taxonomy covers more than climate neutral and renewable investments.
It also covers economic activities that are clearly not climate neutral or renewable but could, under strict conditions and for a limited time, enable the transition towards a sustainable energy system, such as the economic activities in the natural gas and nuclear sector. They should not hamper the development of renewable sources.
That, and the detail of the legislation itself, is a long-winded way of saying that the EU is facing an energy crisis thanks to its existing “green” energy policies, and so, for the time being, nuclear and gas are OK after all.
Politico put it more succinctly than the EU legislators:
EU lawmakers… voted in favor of a European Commission proposal to allow nuclear and natural gas-fired power plants to be marketed as sustainable investments on financial markets.
Under the new rules — known as the taxonomy— new gas-fired plants built through 2030 will be recognized as a transitional energy source as long as they replace a coal- or fuel oil-fired plant, switch to a low-carbon gas like hydrogen by 2035 and stay under a maximum emissions cap over 20 years.
Existing nuclear plants will receive a green label if they pledge to switch to so-called accident-tolerant fuels beginning in 2025 and detail plans for final storage of radioactive waste in 2050.
I’m a little late to the party with this information, but I think it’s worth mentioning here, around three weeks after the event, because it amounts to an admission that at least one aspect of the “green” “net zero” agenda isn’t working and has had to be changed, even if only temporarily (for exactly how long remains to be seen).
Despite the energy crisis facing the EU, and the obvious need for the change to be made, so deep-rooted is the Green Blob that it wasn’t easy at all. 328 MEPs supported the plan, while 278 objected, and 33 abstained. The Commission’s advisory Platform on Sustainable Finance opposed the move, and it has been sharply criticised by “green” campaigners. Indeed:
Greens MEP Marie Toussaint, who campaigned hard to defeat the file, blasted the outcome as “an odious greenwashing attempt with Macron as conductor” and “a failure for Europe and the climate.”
Germany is immediately taking advantage:
Germany will bail out gas importer Uniper, Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Friday, promising to do “what is necessary and as long as it is necessary” to help keep the country afloat amid fears of a Russia-driven energy crisis.
Speaking to reporters in Berlin, Scholz — who interrupted his summer holidays in the Bavarian Alps for the announcement — said his government would acquire 30 percent of Uniper, Germany’s biggest gas importer, as well as provide €7.7 billion in government support and expand a credit line from the state-run KfW investment bank from €2 billion to €9 billion.
The chancellor also announced “further relief” measures “on a permanent basis” to shield citizens from increasing energy prices caused by Russia’s war on Ukraine. The move contravenes signals earlier this week from the government’s finance minister, who insisted that strict fiscal planning left little wiggle room for further support packages for citizens….
…Scholz stressed Friday that the Uniper bailout was necessary because the energy firm “is of paramount importance for the economic development of our country.” …
The position should be contrasted with the UK, whose political and media establishments apparently remain firmly committed to net zero. Even the Conservative Party leadership election saw pretty much all of the candidates committing, even if a little uneasily in one or two cases, to continue supporting the net zero agenda. The BBC and the Guardian continue campaigning as relentlessly as ever.
Meanwhile, back in Europe, “EU allows get-out clause in Russian gas cut deal”. The BBC tells us that:
European Union members have agreed to cut gas use in case Russia halts supplies but some countries will have exemptions to avoid rationing.
However, we also learn that the deal is voluntary (a bit like the agreements signed pursuant to all those COPs) Also:
…some countries not connected to the EU’s gas pipe lines, such as Ireland, Malta and Cyprus, would be exempt from any mandatory gas reduction order [in the future] as they would not be able to source alternative supplies.
Elsewhere the Baltic nations, which are not hooked up to the European electricity system and are heavily reliant on gas for electricity production are also exempt from compulsory targets in order to avoid the risk of an electricity supply crisis.
Countries can also ask to be exempt if they exceed gas storage filling targets, if they are heavily dependent on gas for “critical” industries, or if their gas consumption has increased by at least 8% in the past year compared to the average of the past five years.
In other words, there doesn’t appear to be much willingness to cut down on gas use at all.
Fraser Myers at “spiked” is less than complimentary:
And like many countries, Germany has attempted a disastrous transition to carbon-free energy. The intermittency problems that are inherent to renewable energy mean there are huge energy gaps to fill when the sun doesn’t shine or the wind doesn’t blow. This creates a dependency on gas to fill in the gaps.
Most baffling of all has been Germany’s abandonment of nuclear power. Nuclear energy produces no carbon emissions, but it is still hated and feared by Germany’s green-leaning establishment. In fact, green thinking exercises such a tight grip on the German political class that the German government appears determined not to extend the lifespan of its nuclear power plants – even amid this once-in-a-century energy crisis, and even as it asks for energy-rationing ‘solidarity’ from other countries.
Needless to say, I agree with that, though I’m less convinced by his final paragraph:
The crippling gas cuts to come are not a sign of European strength and solidarity. They are an irrational, dangerous reaction to a crisis decades in the making. And they will leave a lot of ordinary Europeans out in the cold.
This assumes that “crippling gas cuts” will inevitably be made. If gas cannot be sourced for the EU member states from countries other than Russia, then perhaps crippling cuts will have to be made. However, it doesn’t seem to be the plan. The plan seems to be to allow gas to take the strain that has arisen from the general uselessness of renewables.
UK politicians, by contrast, sit smugly on the post-Brexit sidelines, proclaiming that we’re all right, Jack, because we don’t use much Russian gas, and anyway net zero is the way to go. It may yet be UK citizens, rather than EU ones, who are left out in the cold.