FT: Open Letter on EU sustainable finance for nuclear energy and climate.

The 53 signatories of this open letter include world famous climate scientists; academics, political leaders; regulators; climate NGOs; authors; artists; and investors.

This letter has been published in print and online in the Financial Times on Tuesday 17th December.

German and French are translations available below. 

Tuesday 17 December 2019 

Dear European Council of Ministers,

Nuclear power is the single biggest source of low carbon electricity in Europe today and is recognised in many of the scenarios assessed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the IEA and other organisations as having a critical role to play in responding to the climate emergency. It is therefore vital that nuclear is included in the EU’s new classification system for environmentally sustainable activities which is currently being negotiated in Brussels. The “taxonomy” is supposed to provide clear definitions to fund managers and investors about which products are environmentally sustainable and which are not.  For this initiative to serve its purpose, which is to increase the volume of financial capital flowing to sustainable activities, financiers must have confidence that the definition of a sustainable activity is developed with rigour, robustness and in an objective way. However, progress is being blocked by several countries, including Germany, who claim nuclear should be excluded because of their concerns about nuclear waste. This is in spite of clear evidence that nuclear waste does not and will not cause harm to sustainability objectives. In fact, nuclear energy displaces fossil fuel use with significant air pollution and climate benefits. Without nuclear, there will be half a billion tonnes of extra CO2 emissions every year in Europe, which is more than the emissions of UK or France alone.  Without nuclear, our action on climate will be more difficult, more expensive, and more likely to fail. The real harm done will be to Europe’s ambition to achieve net zero by 2050.

Yours Sincerely,

Dr James E. Hansen, Climate Scientist, former director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies

Francois-Marie Bréon, Climate Scientist, lead author for the IPCC Fifth Assessment Report (France)

Hans Blix, IAEA Director General (1981 to 1997), former Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs (Sweden)

Martin Rees, House of Lords (UK)

Dr Ken Caldeira, Climate Scientist, Department of Global Ecology Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University (US)

Baroness Bryony Worthington, House of Lords (UK)

Lord Ravensdale, House of Lords (UK)

Professor Lord Krebs Kt FRS FMed Sci Department of Zoology University of Oxford

Dr Tim Stone, former Member of the Board of the European Investment Bank (2003-2018) (UK)

Hon. Jeffrey S. Merrifield, Commissioner, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (1998-2007)

Brice LaLonde, former French Minister of the Environment; former French Climate Ambassador; former French Green party leader; French Presidential candidate (1981)

John Belgrove, Senior Partner, Aon (Global)

José Gabriel González, singer

Kirsty Gogan, Energy for Humanity (Global)

Eric Ingersoll, Energy Options Network (US)

Michael Liebreich, Liebreich Associates (UK)

Professor Jacopo Buongiorno, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (US)

Professor Joseph Lassiter, Retired, Harvard Business School (US)

Robert Stone, Filmmaker, Director, Chasing the Moon (US)

Daniel Aegerter, Chair, Armada Investment Group (Switzerland)

Nick Spencer FIA, Gordian Advice (UK)

Dr Janne Gustafsson, Ilmarinen Pension Mutual Insurance Company (Finland)

Gilles Babinet, represents France in the EU Digital Champions group (France)

Atte Harjanne, Member of the Parliament of Finland (Green Parliamentary Group)

Mark Yelland, Greens for Nuclear, Green Party Member (UK)

Dr. Staffan Qvist, Author, A Bright Future (Sweden/UK)

Dr. Simon Friederich, University of Groningen (NL) Cofounder German Ecomodernists (Germany)

Amardeo Sarma, Cofounder German Ecomodernists (Germany)

Tea Törmänen, Chair of Finnish Ecomodernists (Finland)

Take Aanstoot, Founder and Chair, Swedish Ecomodernist Society (Sweden)

Adam Blazowski, FOTA4Climate (Poland)

Pavel Gajda, Institute of Sustainable Energy (Poland)

Marc Deffrennes, weCARE (EU)

Valerie Faudon, Nuclear 4 Climate (Global)

Myrto Tripathi, Voix du Nucléaire (France)

Eric Maucort, Sauvons le Climat (France)

Paul Bossens, 100TWh (Belgium)

Iida Ruishalme, Mothers for Nuclear (EU)

Rauli Partanen, Think Atom (Finland)

Prof. Dr. Barbro Walker, Professor of Childhood, University of Applied Sciences, Berlin (Germany)

Dr Jenifer Baxter, CSci MIMMM, CEng MIMechE, Institution of Mechanical Engineers (UK)

Professor Simon Taylor, Judge Business School, University of Cambridge (UK)

Professor Anton van der Merwe Professor of Molecular Immunology, University of Oxford (UK)

Dr T Ben Britton (he/him), CEng, CSci, FIMMM, Imperial College London (UK)

Armond Cohen, Clean Air Task Force (US)

Josh Freed, Third Way (US)

Todd Moss, Energy for Growth (Global)

Ted Nordhaus, Breakthrough Institute (US)

Tracey Durning, Energy Options Network (US)

Suzanne Hobbs Baker, Fastest Path to Zero Initiative, University of Michigan (US)

Jessica Lovering, Carnegie Mellon University (US)

Eric Meyer, Generation Atomic (US)

Dr Ben Heard, Bright New World (Australia)

 

1. About Energy for Humanity

Energy for Humanity is a UK-and Switzerland-based non-profit organisation with a global outlook focused on solving climate change and enabling universal access to modern energy services. 

Energy for Humanity strongly advocates for evidence-based, whole-system, and technology-inclusive solutions in pursuit of the best (fastest, most cost-effective, most feasible) outcomes for people and nature. Our goal is to address these themes and to inspire meaningful action. We believe that leaders need all the clean energy tools at their disposal to solve global challenges including climate change and air pollution, whilst providing low cost, clean power to billions of people and improving life chances for women, children and all people throughout the world.

Energy for Humanity was established in 2014 by the Academy Award Nominee Robert Stone, environmental activist Kirsty Gogan and Swiss Entrepreneur Daniel Aegerter as an international nonprofit organization. In addition to the global organization, affiliated associations were founded in Switzerland and Finland in 2015 . Since August 2016 the organisation Energy for Humanity was integrated as a foundation under the umbrella Fondation des Fondateurs.

  1. Q: Will nuclear energy cause harm to sustainability objective?

A: In fact, all commercial nuclear activities in the EU are already rigorously regulated to a ‘Do no harm’ standard through the Laws, Regulations, and Procedures of the EU and the Member States.

This is done on both EU level (Euratom Treaty) and national level (national legislation and regulation), supported by international guidelines and recommendations from expert organizations such as ICRP (International Commission for Radiological Protection). This includes the short-term storage of spent nuclear fuel, and the provisions that are being made for its permanent disposal.

For further reading on this issue please see a detailed report Sustainable Nuclear Assessment Report which was prepared for the European Commission Technical Expert Group on Sustainable Finance, as well as for the international investment and financing community, to help them fairly and robustly evaluate the overall sustainability of nuclear energy as an investment. This Sustainable Nuclear Assessment Report, assesses the case from multiple points of view considering the best available evidence. That evidence shows clearly that under current treaties, guidelines, regulations and legislation, the nuclear energy lifecycle does not and will not cause significant harm to the sustainability objectives.

3. Energy for Humanity published a detailed report (above), and launched a petition, signed by more than 5,750 people, and with 2,445 supportive comments, making the case for authoritative, evidence-based science to inform Europe’s energy and climate change policies.

4. Mesdames et Messieurs les Ministres du Conseil européen,

L’énergie nucléaire est aujourd’hui la première source d’électricité bas-carbone en Europe. Son rôle essentiel face à l’urgence climatique est reconnu dans de nombreux scénarios du Groupe d’experts intergouvernemental sur l’évolution du climat (GIEC), de l’Agence internationale de l’énergie (AIE) et d’autres organisations. Il est donc vital que l’énergie nucléaire soit incluse dans le nouveau mécanisme européen de classification des activités durables sur le plan environnemental, qui est négocié en ce moment à Bruxelles. La « taxonomie » est censée indiquer clairement aux gestionnaires de fonds et aux investisseurs quels produits sont écologiquement durables et lesquels ne le sont pas. Pour que cette initiative atteigne son objectif, qui est d’accroître le volume de capital financier dirigé vers des activités durables, les investisseurs doivent avoir confiance dans le fait que la définition d’une activité durable est rigoureuse, robuste et objective. Cependant, son avancée est entravée par plusieurs pays, dont l’Allemagne, qui soutiennent que le nucléaire devrait être exclu du fait de leurs inquiétudes quant aux déchets. Cette position va à l’encontre de preuves indiscutables de l’innocuité présente et future des déchets nucléaires vis-à-vis des objectifs de durabilité. De fait, l’énergie nucléaire remplace le recours à des combustibles fossiles, avec des bénéfices significatifs en matière de pollution aérienne et de climat. Sans le nucléaire, un demi-milliard de tonnes de CO2 serait émis en plus chaque année en Europe, soit davantage que les émissions du Royaume-Uni ou de la France. Sans le nucléaire, notre action pour le climat serait encore plus difficile, plus coûteuse, et plus susceptible d’échouer. C’est l’ambition européenne d’atteindre la neutralité carbone en 2050 qui serait la vraie perdante.

Nous vous prions de croire, Mesdames et Messieurs les Ministres, en l’assurance de notre haute considération.

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  1. Sehr geehrter EU-Ministerrat,

Kernenergie erzeugt gegenwärtig unter allen Stromquellen in Europa die meiste CO2-arme Elektrizität, und in vielen vom IPCC, der Internationalen Energieagentur IEA und anderen Organisationen beurteilten Szenarien hat sie eine entscheidende Rolle in unserer Antwort auf den Klimanotstand zu spielen. Es ist daher von größter Wichtigkeit, dass die Kernenergie in die neue EU-Klassifizierung nachhaltiger Aktivitäten aufgenommen wird, über die derzeit in Brüssel verhandelt wird. Diese “Taxonomie” soll für Fondsmanager und Investoren klare Definitionen davon geben, welche Produkte nachhaltig sind und welche nicht. Damit diese Initiative ihren Zweck erfüllen kann — dafür sorgen, dass mehr Finanzkapital in nachhaltige Aktivitäten fließt — müssen Financiers Vertrauen haben können, dass  auf wissenschaftlich strenge, belastbare und objektive Weise definiert wird, was als nachhaltig zählt. Fortschritte in den Verhandlungen werden jedoch durch mehrere Länder behindert, darunter Deutschland, die fordern, Kernenergie wegen Bedenken über Atommüll auszuschließen. Dies trotz klarer Evidenz, dass Kernenergie dem Erreichen der Nachhaltigkeitsziele weder schadet noch schaden wird. Tatsächlich verdrängt Kernenergie fossile Brennstoffe mit bedeutenden Gewinnen für Luftverschmutzung und Klima. Ohne Kernenergie wird es eine halbe Milliarde Tonnen CO2-Emissionen pro Jahr zusätzlich in Europa geben — mehr als die gesamten Emissionen des Vereinigten Königreichs oder Frankreichs. Ohne Kernenergie wird unser Handeln in der Klimakrise schwieriger und teurer sein und anfälliger fürs Scheitern. Leiden wird am Ende Europas Zielsetzung, bis 2050 Null Netto-Emissionen zu erreichen.

<<<ENDS>>>

Read the letter at the Financial Times here