Protesters denounce French pressure to label nuclear as sustainable energy

PARIS, December 14 (Reuters) – Protesters on Tuesday unfurled a banner saying “Gas and nuclear power are not green” outside France’s foreign ministry to protest a government campaign to classify nuclear power and gas fossil fuel as climate-friendly investment sectors.

One of the 20 or so demonstrators, wearing a mask of President Emmanuel Macron, chained himself to a gas cylinder and a nuclear barrel in front of the ministry’s headquarters in Paris. Another held a banner on which was written “Macron, shame on you”.

The European Union is preparing a regulation on climate-friendly investments, which will define from next year which activities can be labeled as green in sectors such as transport and buildings.

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The EU’s aim is to restrict the green investment label to climate-friendly activities, earmark money for low-carbon projects and prevent companies or investors from making claims unfounded environmental issues.

The French government hopes the sustainable energy label could boost the struggling French nuclear industry, which was bailed out by the state in 2017 following construction delays and cost overruns.

“By taking the head of the toxic alliance between fossil gas and nuclear (energy) at European level, Emmanuel Macron is clearly on the side of the polluters. Nuclear power is not green energy: it produces radioactive waste which is are piling up all over the country, “said Nicolas Nace, member of the environmental group Greenpeace.

Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said last month that one of the priorities of France’s six-month EU presidency, starting January 1, would be to include nuclear energy in the European taxonomy sustainable finance.

Some EU countries, including Germany, do not agree with this policy.

France produces around three quarters of its electricity in nuclear reactors operated by the public company EDF.

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Report by Léa Guedj; Writing by Benoit Van Overstraeten; Edited by Geert De Clercq and Timothy Heritage

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