Tuesday

18th Dec 2018

Nuclear debate sees rise in EU carbon prices

  • France is Europe's largest user of nuclear power (Photo: EUobserver)

European carbon prices hit a two-year high on Monday (14 March), as the region reassesses the future of its nuclear energy industry following events in Japan.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said plans to extend the operating life of the country's nuclear plants would be suspended for at least three months, pending an inquiry into their safety, while Switzerland halted plans to build new reactors.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

Carbon permits under the EU's emissions trading scheme, which Switzerland is set to join, rose 5.5 percent to close at €16.60 a tonne on the ICE Futures Europe exchange in London.

The emissions scheme forms a key element of European efforts to cut CO2 emissions by 20 percent over the coming decade, based on 1990 levels.

On Monday, EU climate commissioner Connie Hedegaard presented her '2050 Roadmap' for a low-carbon economy to EU environment ministers in Brussels, stressing that a 25 percent cut was achievable if member states increased their energy efficiency.

Seven environment ministers went further, calling for an EU cut of 30 percent in an open letter to the commission. The ministers came from Britain, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Portugal, Spain and Sweden.

But analysts said an EU move away from the relatively-clean nuclear energy could cast a question mark over the bloc's ability to meet its carbon-cutting pledges.

"European governments will need to know what happened in Japan - look at it in terms of nuclear new build and the existing fleet," Peter Atherton, a utility analyst at Citigroup in London, told Bloomberg News. "That's a process that will take time. The big question is what this means for EU energy targets. Will politicians have the capacity to push them through."

A German government decision to cancel nuclear extensions would result in an additional demand for 700 million tonnes of carbon through 2020, Heiko Siemann, an analyst for UniCredit said.

Nuclear energy accounts for roughly 30 percent of Europe's energy mix, rising to as high as 80 percent in France.

French environment minister Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet on Monday said events in Japan were unlikely to change her country's reliance on nuclear energy. "We can't switch to renewables overnight ... For the foreseeable future, we will need nuclear," she said.

Spanish and Italian ministers made similar pronouncements, while separately, EU energy commissioner Gunther Oettinger said events in Japan were likely to force a fundamental rethink of energy policy across the globe.

Oettinger agreed that EU member states could not simply switch off their nuclear power plants overnight but stressed that "nothing is irreplaceable".

"The unthinkable has occurred. Energy policy faces a fundamental new beginning," he told the German Press Agency DPA.

COP24: Vanuatu in 'constant state of emergency' on climate

Ralph Regenvanu, foreign minister of the Pacific island Vanuatu, said at the COP24 talks in Poland it was disappointing the host country was promoting coal - but was happy with EU contributions to tackle climate change.

News in Brief

  1. 3,500 UK troops on standby for no-deal Brexit
  2. Brexit: Opposition disagrees over no confidence vote
  3. EU court confirms suspension of Polish judges law
  4. France to tax Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon
  5. EU negotiators agree CO2 targets for cars
  6. May: Brexit vote will be week of 14 January
  7. Rome finds extra budget funds to fit EU demands
  8. Polish climate talks end in agreement on rulebook

Stakeholder

COP24 Nordic Pavilion: sharing climate solutions with the world

The Nordic Pavilion at COP24 is dedicated to dialogue – TalaNordic – about key themes regarding the transition to a low-carbon society, such as energy, transport, urban futures, the circular economy and green financing.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General

Latest News

  1. Muscat's one-man rule poses challenge for EU
  2. Orban protests target state media in new front
  3. Brexit and the Queen Sacrifice
  4. EU gives Switzerland another six months for a deal
  5. Fiscal discipline rules in eurozone are devastating
  6. EU capitals see weekend of tear gas and water cannon
  7. Bulgarian 'EU passports' whistleblower wants justice
  8. No more Brexit talks, despite May's pleas

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us