EU rewrites climate diplomacy deal to resolve nuclear friction | Fossil fuels

European Union countries want to introduce an incentive for a gradual elimination of fossil fuels globally among its climate diplomacy priorities in 2023. The EU expects to approve the priorities paper later this week, after having to rewrite a section on nuclear energy which became a point of contention.

The draft text aims to set out the EU’s diplomatic priorities in view of this year’s UN climate summit (COP28), where some 200 countries will negotiate joint efforts to curb climate change. climate change.

In a preliminary version of the text, which Reuters had access to this Monday, it reads that the EU supports a global shift towards the abandonment of fossil fuels. “The shift to a climate-neutral economy will require a global phase-out of fossil fuels without capturing carbon [unabated fossil fuels]”, reads in that version. “The EU will systematically promote and call for a global shift to energy systems free of unmitigated fossil fuels, well before 2050 “.

Some countries hope that this year’s summit can conclude with an agreement on phasing out the use of CO2-emitting fossil fuels – not just coal, as agreed in previous negotiations, but oil and gas as well.

An Indian proposal in this direction gained some support at last year’s United Nations climate summit (COP27, in Egypt), but was opposed by Saudi Arabia and other oil and gas producing nations.

Nuclear energy in the ecological transition?

Diplomats from EU countries are now trying to finalize the text by this Wednesday, followed by formal approval by the ministers of the 27 countries. Approval is being delayed, however, due to disagreements over the role of nuclear power in the green transition.

Specifically, countries have not been able to agree on whether European diplomacy should promote “low-carbon hydrogen” – that is, produced from nuclear energy – or focus on hydrogen produced by renewable energy sources.

This issue has divided Member States. Countries such as France (about 70% of French electricity is of nuclear origin), Hungary and the Czech Republic want more European policies that promote “low-carbon hydrogen”, while countries such as Germany and Spain warn that this could hamper efforts to boost the massive expansion of renewable energy.

The preliminary version of the document does not specify what type of hydrogen the EU will promote: “European energy diplomacy promotes the development of transparent hydrogen markets, based on rules and without distortions”, reads in the document accessed by Reuters, which adds that EU diplomacy should also promote sustainable “low-carbon technologies”.

Issues related to nuclear energy have already posed obstacles to other EU negotiations on targets for renewable energy. Some diplomats worry that disagreements could delay other legislation needed to achieve climate goals.

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