People power must be at the core of all clean energy plans

By Damilola Ogunbiyi, CEO and Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All; Co-Chair, UN-Energy

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent in any way the editorial position of Euronews.

Governments worldwide must put consumer empowerment into national energy plans, in a fair and inclusive manner, and help them understand how to benefit from clean energy consumption, Damilola Ogunbiyi writes.


In the race against climate change, the move to carbon-free energy has taken centre stage. To ensure everyone benefits from fair and affordable clean energy, people power must be at the heart of this transition.

Everywhere today, consumers face unprecedented price pressures caused by our continued dependence on fossil fuels. 

Tackling the climate crisis by enabling affordable clean energy is now more important than ever. The technology exists to put people in direct control of their energy, helping cut their costs and carbon emissions. 

Yet what is still needed is the political will of global leaders to empower consumers to drive this transition.

People have the right to know

Nearly 3 in 4 people in Europe, North America, and Asia Pacific are concerned about climate change. However, only half understand the actions and investments they can make to facilitate change. 

The global average energy-related carbon footprint is almost five tonnes of CO2 per person — the equivalent of two round-trip flights between Singapore and New York, or driving an average SUV for 18 months. This is a huge untapped potential for positive climate action.

To enable citizens to act, they need information on how they can best reduce emissions and cut costs; high-quality data about their energy consumption to help change behaviour; and policies designed to help them participate in and benefit from clean energy systems.

The demand for this is clear. Almost 50% of people say they could reduce their energy consumption with the right information and financial support — and the impact is already being proven. 

To give one example: in Malaysia, the leading utility gave home energy reports to 450,000 consumers with simple and actionable consumption data, resulting in a 3% average reduction in household energy demand without needing new technology or government incentives.

It is a matter of access

With the right guidance, people are able to adopt energy-saving practices, cut their costs and reduce their carbon emissions. 

However, only the European Union and Australia mandate such consumer access to energy data. This simple action by governments would make a massive positive impact – without cost.

The next step is to provide granular data about energy consumption to every household. When consumers have access to real-time insights on their energy usage, evidence shows they understand their environmental impact better and make conscious choices to reduce it — again, cutting costs and emissions.

The technology already exists. Smart metres equipped with real-time data monitoring provide consumers with detailed insights into their energy use. 

More importantly, they enable dynamic pricing, allowing consumers to take advantage of cheaper and cleaner electricity at different times of day.

Advanced economies such as China and the US are leading the way, with almost 100% and 70% of consumers using smart metres. Yet, this has not translated to developing economies, with only 3% of homes in Latin America or 2% in India having access to them. 

Progress is happening, but far more needs to be done to invest in smart metre rollouts for those who could benefit the most.

Those usually on the sidelines could finally take control

Putting the consumer at the heart of the clean energy transition gives every person a stake and opportunity to benefit, increasing social support and accelerating the decarbonisation of our energy systems. 

Making this a reality needs more than information and technology. Policies and incentives such as tax breaks, subsidies, and rewards for adopting renewable technologies, combined with innovative business models, are needed to give people greater access to clean energy, especially in developing economies.


The Rwanda Cooling Initiative’s Green On-wage financing mechanism is one example of a new business model which puts people in the driver’s seat. 

Consumers can take out interest-free loans, repaid through salaries, to purchase energy-efficient cooling technology, lowering the risk and cost of financing. 

By doing so, people who would otherwise be left on the sidelines are able to take control of their energy use, benefit from cheaper, cleaner energy and participate in the fight against climate change.

A system that’s fair and just for all

The climate crisis is an undeniable reality that demands immediate attention and collective action. We must urgently move away from fossil fuels to build a healthier and cleaner future for citizens everywhere. 

By empowering people to adopt energy-efficient practices and make informed choices about energy consumption, we can make a substantial positive impact on the transition to accessible and affordable 24/7 carbon-free energy in a way that is fair and just for all.


To make this happen, governments worldwide must put consumer empowerment into national energy plans, in a fair and inclusive manner, and help them understand how to benefit from clean energy consumption.

However, citizens alone taking action is not enough. To make the change at the scale and pace we need, governments worldwide must be bold and commit to achieving 24/7 carbon-free energy. 

Unlocking the benefits requires the right regulatory frameworks, investment in renewables and grid infrastructure, and commitment to phase out fossil fuels.

There is no time to waste. We must act now, and act together, to make clean energy work for all.

Damilola Ogunbiyi is CEO and Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Sustainable Energy for All and Co-Chair of UN-Energy.


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The EU’s hydrogen plans are a distraction led by corporate interests

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent in any way the editorial position of Euronews.

Over the past few years, hydrogen has been transformed into a cornerstone of EU energy policy. Yet, oil and gas majors are taking advantage of the EU’s unrealistic targets for green hydrogen in order to sneak fossil-based hydrogen in through the back door, Belén Balanyá writes.


A look at the top 100 highest spenders on EU lobbying reveals that the hydrogen lobby is particularly extravagant, shelling out a whopping €75.75 million per year.

To give some context, this is substantially more than what big tech (€43.5m) and big finance (€38.75m) declare in the top 100 for their annual lobby spending.

The ranking sheds some light on the IEA’s newly released figures showing that an astounding 99% of globally produced hydrogen is made from fossil fuels. Yes, we are talking about the very same fossil fuels that are stoking the climate crisis.

In 2022, the total global hydrogen production of 95 million tonnes (Mt) was responsible for over 900 Mt of carbon emissions. This exceeded the nearly 800 Mt that was emitted by the entire global aviation industry.

Although the EU’s targets for green hydrogen are trumpeted with great fanfare — 20 million tonnes per year by 2030 — the fact is that current green hydrogen production around the world remains negligible. In 2022, less than 0.1% of global hydrogen (less than 0.08 million tonnes) was produced from renewable electricity.

Over the past few years, hydrogen has been transformed into a cornerstone of EU energy policy. Let’s look behind the scenes to see who is profiting from today’s inflated targets, massive subsidies and support schemes.

Meet Big Hydrogen

Unsurprisingly, oil and gas majors like Shell, Total, ExxonMobil, BP, Equinor and their lobby groups figure on the list of the top 100 spenders on EU lobbying, drawn from LobbyFacts data

These interests, fully aware that hydrogen will continue to be mostly fossil-based in the coming years, have successfully hyped hydrogen as a silver bullet solution to the climate crisis. They are taking advantage of the EU’s unrealistic targets for green hydrogen in order to sneak fossil-based hydrogen in through the back door.

They are building on their campaign to sell the so-called “blue” hydrogen — produced from fossil fuels, mainly gas, with part of the carbon emissions “captured” — as clean. 

Although it is often described as a low-carbon, low-emissions, and even CO2-neutral gas, blue hydrogen is a climate killer. 

In fact, when their total CO2 and methane emissions are added up, the climate footprint of blue and other fossil hydrogen is greater than the direct burning of fossil fuels. Yet it has become a lifeline for the fossil fuel industry.

Other polluting industries with a vested interest in the hydrogen economy have also jumped on the bandwagon, including chemical and fertiliser corporations such as BASF, Dow, and Yara, and big players from the transport sector like BMW and the powerful ACEA car lobby. 

Manufacturers including Siemens and Bosch are along for the ride, as is the influential Hydrogen Europe lobby group.

In the increasingly urgent context of the climate crisis, the hydrogen hype offers a perfect cover for polluting companies. 

Why reduce traffic, or transition to agroecological farming, or decommission fossil gas pipelines when hydrogen allows you to continue your dirty business?

The slippery slope towards neo-colonialism

The continuation of the fossil fuel era is not the only risk posed by the hydrogen hype. The EU’s hydrogen plans deepen neo-colonial extractivist practices, including the large-scale appropriation in producing countries of land, water, and energy that could otherwise be used to meet local electricity needs.

in a new report by Corporate Europe Observatory, we look at projects with a planned production capacity of more than 1 gigawatt of green hydrogen. We found that 41 of the proposed 109 projects are planned in countries already facing high water stress, including Spain, Namibia, Chile and Morocco.

According to industry figures, the production process consumes around 10 litres of ultra-pure water (requiring 20-30 litres of seawater or 12-13 litres of fresh water) for every produced kilogram of hydrogen. 


This places additional demands on water in a context where food production and drinking water are already under stress.

The wind and solar farms needed for the hydrogen economy also require vast areas of land. For example, with an area of 8,500 km2, the Aman project in Mauritania — one of the world’s biggest planned green hydrogen projects — covers more territory than many global megacities.

Additionally, many of the countries that the EU considers as potential candidates for hydrogen imports produce little green energy. 

For example, in the Gulf countries, less than 1% of the electricity came from renewables in 2022 (the exception is the United Arab Emirates, with 4.5%).

A vision away from the resource-grabbing corporate economy of today

For similar reasons, the African People’s Climate and Development Declaration, signed by over 500 African civil society groups in September 2023, rejects green hydrogen as a “false solution”, stating that “green hydrogen for export does nothing to increase access for the 600 million Africans without access to energy. Instead, it turns our African renewable energy into an exportable commodity and ships our energy overseas.”


This is not to say that there is no role for green hydrogen. Mohamed Adow, who leads the climate think tank Power Shift Africa, outlines what he considers as a “socially, ecologically and economically appropriate use of hydrogen” in Africa: “small to medium scale, for domestic use (not for export), not in water-stressed regions, and to produce fertilisers for food sovereignty rather than for cash crops for export”.

His vision could not be further from the resource-grabbing and corporate-controlled hydrogen economy currently under construction in the EU. 

Yet, it seems that nobody is hearing him, or many others who might have a much healthier, resilient, and mindful vision for our joint future.

Belén Balanyá is a researcher and campaigner with Corporate Europe Observatory, a non-profit research and campaign group aiming to expose any effects of corporate lobbying on EU policymaking.

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Why aren’t there more women in EU’s offshore renewable energy sector?

By Helena Rodrigues, Ocean Policy Officer, and Larissa Milo-Dale, Senior Communications Officer, WWF European Policy Office

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent in any way the editorial position of Euronews.

Improving gender balance in the EU’s fastest expanding maritime industry is crucial to ensure that the fundamental human right of gender equality is upheld in Europe’s fight against life-threatening climate change, Helena Rodrigues and Larissa Milo-Dale write.

In April 2023, at the WindEurope annual event in Copenhagen, entering a room filled with men in navy suits seemed to confirm the state of play of sectors “known” for low gender diversity. 


While by no means a new anecdote, stories like these are ringing heavier in our ears after so many decades of awareness of the problem, and they fly in the face of initiatives like the EU Gender Equality Strategy. 

We can’t help but wonder, to paraphrase Beyoncé, where are the girls “who run the world?”

The renewable energy sector is growing, and women are technically equipped to contribute. Studies show that companies with at least 30% of women engaged in high-level positions consistently perform better at all levels. 

Women also now make up half of all EU university graduates, indicating their potential as catalysts for change at decision-making levels. Yet data on gender diversity continue to show women as the odd ones out.

Still no seat at the table

Today, the gender wage gap across the EU energy industry is nearly 20%. Further, women only occupy up to 20% of senior roles in some sub-sectors; in fossil–fuel–related ones, it’s only up to 15%.

At the EU decision-making level, just four women sit in the European Council. In the European Parliament, less than 10% of climate and energy legislative files are led by women, despite women making up 40% of Members of the European Parliament.

Women are actively missing from the discourses that decide both their immediate and long-term socioeconomic realities. 

This includes not having an equitable say in the energy mixes available in their communities, and thus the price of energy and how this trickles down into the price of food. 

Women are thus also absent from decisions about how to improve their employment opportunities in energy and policy. 

Similarly, given that women are more heavily impacted by climate change than men, having an equal voice in decision-making arenas to reduce energy-related emissions is essential to their long-term well-being.

Gender parity for carbon neutrality

Offshore wind is fast becoming a key player in Europe’s blue economy. EU Member States have pledged to reach at least 116 GW by 2030 — a 625% increase from 2022 levels. 


And no time is being wasted: just this summer, Germany announced the results of its biggest auction to date, with €12.6 billion pledged for 7 GW of new projects.

However, a transition from fossil fuels to renewables does not necessarily mean a more diverse and equal future for all. 

Many of the companies currently leading investment in offshore wind have a background in oil and gas (BP and TotalEnergies won the German auction), a historically male-dominated sector. 

And targets set by the industry to improve diversity are woefully inadequate: 30% of women across management levels by 2025 is a far cry from equality.

During the 2023 State of the EU address, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen emphasised the Commission’s commitment to the EU Gender Equality Strategy and announced the development of a “European Wind Power Package”. 


These are excellent opportunities for policymakers, offshore wind project developers and civil society to ensure gender-responsive investments in new technologies and skills training that will see more women enter the industry.

Building the winds of change

If our leaders are to make good on their energy transition promises, it’s time to deeply challenge the social and cultural norms that affect our perceptions — both women’s and men’s — of what roles women can play. 

As long as key stakeholders remain absent from the decision-making table, climate action falls radically short of being truly sustainable.

The EU and its member states should radically increase efforts to promote the entry of more women into the renewable energy sector by improving their involvement in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields. 

Further, gender-balanced stakeholder participation should be legally required in all renewable energy project consultations, as well as in the development of community compensation schemes designed to mitigate any negative impacts of new developments.


Gender equality must also be firmly embedded in all EU renewable energy policy forums.

But, as we’ve seen, the proof lies in the numbers, and we need a different story than the one being told so far. 

A common framework to collect gender-specific data is needed to monitor progress towards gender equality across all energy sub-sectors. 

The knowledge gained from these datasets will also support the EU in empowering women to actively and effectively participate in the carbon-neutral transition.

It’s time to set the EU apart

Proactively raising the roles and profiles of women in the global fight against the climate crisis would set the EU apart, providing a positive example for countries all over the world to follow.

Ultimately, though, the shift to a clean, renewables-based energy system should simply affirm the social values we want for our society, including the fundamental human right of gender equality. 

Offshore wind is clearly the EU’s way forward, and women need to be an equal part of it.

Helena Rodrigues is Ocean Policy Officer and Larissa Milo-Dale is Senior Communications Officer at the WWF European Policy Office.

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Industry-led innovation could help resolve the energy trilemma

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent in any way the editorial position of Euronews.

Forward-looking companies within the energy and related industries must lend their resources and expertise to developing and integrating practical and impactful technologies that support the global energy transition, Lorenzo Simonelli writes.

Multiple recent energy outlooks have projected that the world will not meet the ambitious emission reduction targets set for 2050, with oil and natural gas still likely to meet more than half of the world’s energy needs. 


This news reflects a growing focus on energy security, as countries around the world are reluctant to sacrifice the stability of their energy supply and economic situation in order to dramatically reduce their emissions.

Balancing the Paris Accords commitment to stay within the 1.5 degrees Celsius threshold with our responsibility to provide a steady and secure supply of energy is undoubtedly a challenging task. 

However, the energy industry must not be daunted or discouraged by the obstacles it faces. Instead, we must focus on what we are best equipped to provide, which in the case of industry, is the advancement of lower-emissions technologies and solutions.

Low-hanging fruit first

By breaking down the technology development and implementation process into three broad focus areas – leveraging available low-carbon technologies, investing in the development of new cleaner energy technologies, and piloting promising new concepts and solutions to make them market-ready – we can target our efforts to make significant headway in the journey towards net-zero. 

Within this framework, we can ensure we continue our momentum towards a lower-carbon economy to achieve the energy transition in a sustainable and productive manner.

Firstly, we must look to harvest the already low-hanging fruit of existing technologies that can make our current energy system more sustainable. 

As one example of the opportunity, McKinsey has reported that deploying the available technologies could deliver about 60% of the emissions abatement that will be needed to stabilise the climate by 2050. 

Electrification is an obvious way to reduce emissions, as is being witnessed with the expansion of electric vehicles, heat pumps, and electric and plasma arc furnaces.

However, we will still have to rely on hydrocarbons for at least the next few decades, particularly as we move away from coal and replace it with natural gas.

New technologies should fill the remaining gaps

In this context, we must ensure the oil and gas industry is reducing its emissions as much as possible. 

This can be done by integrating smart technologies to reduce emissions, improve the energy efficiency of hydrocarbons so less is used to achieve more and reduce the impact of hydrocarbon use. 


Smart flaring systems can be deployed at oil and gas fields to monitor, reduce, and control emissions associated with flaring. Such systems can reduce the leakage of methane, minimise costs from flaring operations, provide steam savings and improve transparency for flare operations.

In conjunction with this, we need to push investment into developing new energy technologies to fill the remaining gaps in the energy system. 

The major areas where we still need to invest in research and development include carbon capture, storage and usage (CCUS), hydrogen production, transportation and usage, and emissions management. 

By intelligently channelling investment into the new clean energy system, we can be prepared to meet the clean energy needs of tomorrow. I am proud that investment is taking place in this area today, with Baker Hughes investing more than $2 billion (€1.86bn) in new energy technologies through partnerships, acquisitions, and ecosystems. 

This trend must continue, as our actions in the first half of this decade will set the pace of change as we head into the next.


Scaling up and identifying gaps

Lastly, we need to ensure that the promising new technologies and systems that are being ideated are not just left on the drawing board or in the lab. 

The International Energy Agency has estimated in previous reports that nearly half of the emissions reductions required to achieve net zero by 2050 will be achieved by technologies that are not yet commercially viable. 

New technology concepts and designs need to be identified and tested through piloting, to see how they scale up to the required size and to identify the gaps that appear when they are deployed in the real world.

Fortunately, our industry is making a concerted effort to promote the continued development of cutting-edge climate technology that can accelerate our transition to clean energy. 

Major industry events, such as the upcoming ADIPEC exhibition and conference in Abu Dhabi, are showcasing the leading innovations in decarbonization, hydrogen, and biofuels. 


These events offer promising technology the exposure needed to attract while providing a much-needed forum for key stakeholders to align on investment priorities.

We can develop clean tech together

The journey to net zero will require many different technologies and an energy mix that will continue to evolve and change. 

Forward-looking companies within the energy and related industries must lend their resources and expertise to developing and integrating practical and impactful technologies that support the global energy transition. 

Together, we can develop the clean technologies the world needs to reach net zero, and in doing so, ensure a balanced response to the energy trilemma while driving momentum towards the energy transition.

Lorenzo Simonelli is Chairman and CEO of Baker Hughes, one of the world’s largest companies providing oil field services.

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Fossil fuel companies stand at a crossroads: Adapt or die

Less than three months before COP28, the message to the energy and transport companies is clear: decarbonisation will happen, and there is no way out, Prof Vicente López-Ibor Mayor writes.

The time has come to reach a Climate Deal that will only be accessible to companies that decarbonise. Those that fail to decarbonise will not meet the standards required by the Climate Deal and the energy sector of the future.


That goal must be a central feature of the UN COP28 climate talks in Dubai. After all, the world needs rapid decarbonisation. 

From oil to hydrogen, gas to biofuels, coal to nuclear, solar to wind, and buildings to transport, only companies that make clear commitments to decarbonisation should benefit from regulatory incentives, financing, fiscal support for innovation, and beyond.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) recently reported that by 2025, renewables will fuel 35% of global electricity generation, dethroning coal as the world’s largest power source. In the US, solar power alone will account for over half of the new capacity in 2023. 

These aren’t just predictions – they’re realities in motion.

Adapting to decarbonisation demands will be key

Indeed, the IEA’s findings could be conservative. According to a major study published last year by the University of Exeter’s Global Systems Institute, the world may have already passed a “global solar tipping point”, where “solar energy gradually comes to dominate global electricity markets, even without additional climate policies”.

At current exponential growth rates, solar, wind and batteries will supply over 80% of global electricity by the 2060s. Though impressive, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says this is not fast enough.

In 2018, the IPCC found that to keep global warming within the 1.5 degrees Celsius safe limit agreed upon by world governments in Paris eight years ago, we need to not only eliminate carbon emissions but start removing 5 billion tonnes a year of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere by 2050. 

So, while we need to accelerate the build-out of renewables faster than the current rate, with fossil fuels supplying about 78% of the world’s energy needs, it is reasonable to foresee that we’ll continue relying on oil and gas production for decades to come.

Therefore, it’s imperative that fossil fuel industries adapt to the demands of decarbonisation — a view shared by US Climate Envoy John Kerry who just last week called on global oil and gas industry leaders to bring concrete plans to the upcoming COP28 UN climate summit for reducing emissions and investing in renewable energy by 2030.

Dominance of clean energy ecosystem is inevitable

But for COP28 to deliver a new Global Climate Deal that incentivises and compels the fossil fuel industry to decarbonise will require three things.

Firstly, we need to accelerate the build-out of global renewable energy infrastructure as fast as possible. 


The dominance of the new clean electricity ecosystem based on solar, wind, storage and some other clean energy solutions — utility-scale and in local markets — is inevitable, but we have to bring it forward dramatically. 

This requires prioritising climate financing to help decarbonise emerging countries with the greatest need to industrialise.

Secondly, given that we will still rely on fossil fuels during the energy transition, we need to ramp up the economic and technological viability of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies to decarbonise them as much as possible. 

By partnering with renewable energy to power CCS, fossil fuel companies can bring the economic and energy costs down dramatically, and scale it up faster.

COP 28 should consider launching an expert commission

Thirdly, we need to accelerate both carbon withdrawal technologies and nature-based solutions that can draw down billions of tonnes of carbon from the atmosphere every year. Any technology that contributes to the net-zero deserves to be studied and, where appropriate, welcomed.


Despite some scepticism, Dr Al Jaber’s presidency at COP28 proposes several ambitious goals, something that should be particularly considered. 

Admittedly, these proposals may not be fast enough to avoid dangerous climate change. 

But if this upcoming COP fails to ratify even these proposals, we will have missed yet another unprecedented opportunity to create a firm foundation for even faster action which we can demand at later summits.

That is why I believe COP28 should launch an International Commission of High-Level Experts possessing knowledge in the scientific, economic, legal, technological and social fields to lead, supervise, and ensure the fulfilment of a new Global Climate Deal on these terms.

Make no mistake: decarbonisation will happen

The implications are profound. Energy companies need to accelerate their ‘just transition’ journey or face disruption. 


Environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria will soon be insufficient, and the companies incorporating them will not be pioneers, but merely compliant. Companies that ignore them will be left out of the market. Either industries move rapidly into net-zero, or they’ll face deterioration of assets and profits.

Finally, it is important to note that energy is now not only a market for goods but also for services. For this reason, the leading companies will be those with the greatest capacity for innovation.

Less than three months before COP28, the message to the energy and transport companies is clear: decarbonisation will happen, and there is no way out. And if you choose to be part of it, you’ll not only be saving your industry, but saving our planet too.  

Professor Vicente López-Ibor Mayor is an energy and climate expert. He was a founding Member of the European Council of Energy Regulators, a Special Advisor to the European Commissioner of Energy, Transports and Institutional Affairs, a Special Advisor to UNESCO’s Energy Programme, and a Commissioner of the National Energy Commission of Spain.

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Sustainability has lost its meaning as the nuclear lobby triumphs

Listening to the 14 EU countries-strong Nuclear Alliance that lobbied for nuclear power’s green label and now wants to see it treated the same as other renewables means everything is allowed, Thomas Stuart Kirkland and Christiana Mauro write.

The European Commission, under the presidency of Ursula von der Leyen, has officially declared climate policy as its number one priority. 


But the end of August, in the European General Court in Luxembourg, marks the conclusion of the first phase of one of three lawsuits against the European Commission targeting a key piece of European Green Deal legislation.

These lawsuits were brought not by opponents of climate mitigation policy, but by those, including Austria and a number of environmental groups, who wish to rescue the legislation from what they see as its being fatally compromised.

The pleading in the cases is aimed at revoking the Complementary Climate Delegated Act (CCDA), in force since this January. 

This supplements the Taxonomy Regulation, a list of economic activities considered sustainable and thus eligible for green investment, to include, astonishingly, natural gas and nuclear power.

What has led to this situation, in which the EU executive, ostensibly dedicated to achieving its “Fit by 55” plan to substantially reduce greenhouse emissions by 2030, finds itself challenged on its showpiece Green Legislation by one of its own member states?

The answer readily supplied by critics is that it is an appropriate response to one of the most conspicuous triumphs of greenwashing foisted on the public. 

The inclusion of gas and nuclear, they say, violates the entire purpose of the Taxonomy Regulation.

The media dropped the ball

This hijacking of the EU’s key instrument of green policy has been openly accomplished through a campaign of misinformation conducted by the nuclear lobby.

In March 2021, seven nuclear member states sent a letter to the European Commission demanding the inclusion of nuclear energy in the taxonomy. 

The intervention got some attention from news media at the time, but it was not of a critical kind.

Workaday mainstream journalists with tight deadlines to meet certainly haven’t always been keen to delve into all the nooks and crannies of a complicated story or take the responsibility to come down trenchantly on one side of an issue. 


But something more insidious has emerged in recent decades: a paralysis in the face of debate, a willingness to report the scientific controversy and to present both sides in a “fair and balanced” way which gives equal time to the consensus of experts and the hype of hucksters.

Like retired journalist Jay Rosen said, “You don’t get a lot of complaints if you just write down what everyone says and leave it at that.” 

But this serves the purposes of disinformation, which is not to convince, but to confuse and demoralise. Ultimately, it disables any organised effort to change things.

The Nuclear Seven’s claims are, in fact, dubious

When a team of independent journalists took the letter’s statements apart it found that of the 25 factual claims in the letter, 20 were either fictitious or misleading, including the usual dubious assertions about nuclear’s “valuable contribution” to climate neutrality. 

However, the conclusions of the crowd-sourced investigation did not find a publisher among the European outlets and went largely unnoticed.


The letter by the Nuclear Seven — France, Poland, Hungary, Czechia, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia — was bolstered ten days later by the release of a draft report by the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC). 

It had been assigned to determine whether nuclear power met the criteria for inclusion in the taxonomy, specifically, the Do No Significant Harm principle. This, in spite of the trifling fact that the JRC was established under the Euratom Treaty and is still tasked with conducting nuclear research under the aegis, and with the funding, of Euratom.

The report concluded that there was no “science-based evidence” that nuclear could do more harm to the environment than other activities in the taxonomy. 

To no one’s surprise; but to considerable criticism from experts, including one of Germany’s nuclear regulatory authorities, and from the European Commission’s own Scientific Committee on Health, Environment and Emerging Risks, both of whom pointed out that the report’s conclusions were not supported by the report’s own findings. 

Others noted that the JRC mandate neglected many critical taxonomy elements. In spite of these severe strictures, when the final JRC report was published a few months later it contained no revisions.


Nuclear lobby’s swagger

The extent of the influence of the Nuclear Seven and the JRC report on the ultimate decision to formally label nuclear as sustainable is unclear, but likely decisive. 

And buoyed up by this, the EU’s successful nuclear lobby has been conducting itself with noticeable swagger. 

From the seven signatories of the 2021 letter, the Nuclear Alliance, as it is now known, has expanded to 14 EU countries with the addition, in February, of Bulgaria, Croatia, Finland and the Netherlands, followed by Belgium, Estonia and Sweden, with Italy as an observer. 

Now representing a majority in the EU, the Alliance has been emboldened to demand, at their fourth meeting in Spain on 11 July, that nuclear energy should be treated equally with renewables when it comes to EU funding and the promotion of joint projects.

Under their banner of “tech neutrality” — an echo from the 2021 letter — the Alliance has already successfully lobbied for the acceptance of nuclear-produced “pink hydrogen” as “green hydrogen” and managed to wring important concessions in the revision of the Renewable Energy Directive, which would almost double the share renewable in the EU’s overall energy consumption by 2030. 

These concessions allow for a greater role of nuclear power in meeting these targets.

Everything goes as sustainability loses its essence

As a crowning irony, the Nuclear Alliance is led by France, whose own national law — a 2015 decree on the “Energy and Ecological Transition for Climate” label — excludes atomic energy from being classified as a green investment.

In “Diversion from urgent climate action”, WISE’s nuclear expert Jan Haverkamp makes the case that vigorous nuclear industry lobbying in Brussels has had a “direct influence on the speed with which urgent climate action is taken”, slowing down the adoption of renewable energy sources, which is a boon for the fossil fuel industry.

Sustainability having lost its meaning, everything is allowed. 

And so, living in the Upside Down, we are witness to the triumph of the nuclear lobby. 

In the post-CCDA landscape, the nuclear zombies have acquired a new green sheen as they shamble and shuffle pointlessly, consuming all the oxygen in the climate policy conversation until they ultimately expire in obscene cost overruns and non-delivery of their boastfully promised but illusory results.

Thomas Stuart Kirkland and Christiana Mauro are freelance reporters covering Eastern Europe.

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