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Menopausal Mother Nature

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Europe’s Crazy War On Nuclear And Natural Gas

nuclear power protest

The European Union this month said nuclear and natural-gas power can be climate-friendly after all, and this policy is so sensible you knew it would run into opposition.

Now comes the green push-back that’s as enlightening as we hope it is futile.

The kerfuffle surrounds the taxonomy for green investments the European Commission released at the New Year.

By including some nuclear and natural-gas electricity generation, Brussels seeks to unlock hundreds of billions of euros in government and private investment for climate-friendly projects.

Cue outrage from all the usual green suspects. This coalesced in a report Monday from the technical advisory panel supposedly guiding Brussels’s policies on these matters.

Political leaders in Spain, Austria, Denmark, and Luxembourg also expressed opposition, and Berlin appears to be lukewarm.

The critics lack much of a technical case. On natural gas, they complain the EU’s proposed thresholds for carbon-dioxide emissions are too loose.

The rule would allow a gas-fired plant to have lifetime emissions of 270 grams of CO2 per kilowatt-hour of power generated, compared to the 100-gram level environmentalists think is necessary to save the planet.

Yet that limit already will require substantial technological innovation. A United Nations report last year estimated that gas emissions currently run between 400-500 grams per kilowatt-hour.

And even without that innovation, burning gas emits less CO2 than the 700-plus grams released by the coal that gas would replace.

Environmentalists also object that Brussels’s blessing for gas and nuclear comes with an expectation of technological advances that might not occur.

The commission expects nuclear operators will develop systems for waste disposal, and sets targets for gas operators to incorporate climate-friendly fuels in their mix.

Then again, most of the promise of renewables also remains far in the future. Achieving energy security with wind and solar will require advanced power-storage technologies such as batteries that don’t exist.

The commission chose to allow nuclear and gas investments to boost the stability of the energy supply until renewable technologies can catch up to a modern economy’s need for power around the clock in all weather.

Most European governments understand all this, so the commission’s proposal is likely to secure the support it needs from a majority of governments.

But the plan also will require approval by the European Parliament, which will become another bruising battle between green hope and energy experience.

Most remarkable is that the critics of nuclear and natural gas are ignoring the current economic and political crisis wrought by their policies.

Vladimir Putin is the main beneficiary of Europe’s climate obsessions and hostility to fossil fuels and nuclear power.

He has energy leverage over the Continent that no dictator should be able to have. Brussels is belatedly trying to correct this blunder by encouraging smarter energy investments.

Read more at WSJ

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