Editorial. There will therefore be several shades of green in Europe. After months of hesitation, the European Commission has finally presented a labeling project for the investments necessary for ecological transition. The exercise is perilous, because there is no consensus within the Member States of the European Union on the means to achieve carbon neutrality in 2050, the objective that the Twenty-Seven have set for themselves in the framework of of the Paris climate agreement. To get around the obstacle, Brussels is showing pragmatism so that each country can keep this agenda according to its own energy choices.
Grouped under the forbidding term of taxonomy, this European nomenclature consists of defining what a sustainable economic activity is in order to direct funding under the Green Pact for Europe. If an energy source is not listed, it will have difficulty finding the capital necessary for its development and may quickly find itself out of the game. Thus, seventy sectors of activity, representing 93% of greenhouse gases. greenhouse emissions on European territory (construction, transport, industry or energy), were scrutinized to find out whether they could benefit from the precious label.
While the status of renewable energies is not up for debate, the fate of gas and nuclear power is much more controversial. The first, supported by a small group of countries, led by Germany, emits CO2, while the second, of which France has made itself the champion, is almost carbon neutral, but remains a generator of hazardous waste that must be stored. In this context, it is difficult to speak of “green” energy sources.
Faced with this dilemma, the European Commission has chosen… not to choose. Both gas and nuclear should be well classified as energies necessary for the ecological transition, even if they will be subject to restrictions, carbon emissions for gas, schedule for nuclear.
No quick fix
Like all compromises, this one risks creating a lot of frustration and protests, but it has the merit of favoring a certain realism. A taxonomy qualifying only renewable energies was undoubtedly attractive, but utopian for the great majority of international experts. Without gas and / or nuclear, carbon neutrality and limiting global warming will be extremely difficult to achieve on time, if not at the cost of a rapid and profound change in lifestyle, difficult to accept at this stage by public opinion. .
In this energy debate, there is no quick fix. Nuclear power is scary, but it emits hardly any CO2. Gas is perhaps more reassuring and less polluting than oil or coal, but it places us in a situation of dependence on our main supplier, Vladimir Putin’s Russia, without resolving the question of decarbonization. Nevertheless, the two energy sources have the immense advantage of being controllable, that is to say of being usable at any time, even when there is no wind to turn the wind turbines. or sunlight to power the solar panels.
The draft can still be amended before its final publication in a few days. Even if this taxonomy is far from perfect, it nevertheless allows Europe to strengthen its environmental leadership, by defining a standard in “green” finance, which could become a benchmark for the rest of the world.
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“Green” energies: a necessary European compromise