Germany wants to avoid escalation of European dispute over green finance rules

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German government spokesperson Steffen Hebestreit reacts by presenting the logo of the G7 summit in Germany 2022 at a press conference in Berlin, Germany on December 17, 2021. REUTERS / Annegret Hilse

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BERLIN, Jan. 3 (Reuters) – Germany wants to avoid an escalation in the dispute over a European proposal to classify both nuclear power and natural gas as climate-friendly energy sources by abstaining from ‘a vote on the investment plan, government sources said on Monday.

The European Commission’s decision to include gas and nuclear investments in European Union rules on the “taxonomy of sustainable finance” was broadcast in a draft proposal late on December 31 – a timing that has been criticized by European legislators.

During months of heated debate over the proposals, Germany and other EU member states argued that investments in gas were needed to help them move away from the more polluting coal. Others have said that labeling a fossil fuel as green would undermine the EU’s credibility as it seeks to be a world leader in the fight against climate change.

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Nuclear power without emissions is also a source of division. France, the Czech Republic and Poland are among those who say nuclear power should play an important role in the fight against global warming. Austria, Germany and Luxembourg are among those opposed, citing concerns about radioactive waste.

The three-way coalition government of German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, made up of center-left Social Democrats, Green Greens and pro-business Free Democrats, is also divided on the issue.

During coalition negotiations last year, the three parties failed to agree on a common wording on the EU’s green investment rules and therefore did not mention the subject in their coalition agreement presented in November.

Behind closed doors, the leaders of the three parties agreed to avoid a fight against the European Commission’s compromise proposal and to simply abstain from the vote when EU leaders have their final say at a summit. later that year, two people familiar with the decision said on condition of anonymity.

A government spokesperson said earlier Monday that all three coalition parties rejected the use of nuclear power in Germany.

But the parties agreed that natural gas could be used as a bridging technology for now and they would discuss how to proceed with the Commission proposal in the future, he added.

The Commission will now collect comments on its draft until January 12 and hopes to adopt a final text by the end of the month. After that, the text can be discussed with governments and the EU parliament for up to six months. But it is unlikely to be rejected as it would force 20 of the 27 EU countries, representing 65% of EU citizens, to say ‘no’.

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Reporting by Andreas Rinke and Michael Nienaber; Editing by Miranda Murray and Stephen Coates

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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