Grossi 'absolutely confident' of nuclear's inclusion in EU taxonomy

04 November 2021

The International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA's) Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said he is "absolutely confident" that "some arrangement" will be made to accept nuclear energy in the EU's taxonomy of sustainable investment. In an on-stage interview at COP26, he said the escalation of gas prices has increased political interest in nuclear power.

Grossi during his interview at COP26 (Image: Jonathan Cobb)

The interview at COP26 marked a new era of engagement for the IAEA in the United Nations Framework Convention of Climate Change process to address climate change. Although the agency has participated regularly in COP events, it has not previously taken a prominent position to represent nuclear energy and explain its role.

Grossi told his interviewer, the British journalist Gillian Tett, that achieving net-zero without nuclear power would be "extremely difficult, far more expensive and longer." That is one reason why, "There is an increased recognition that it is part of the solution and it will be part of the solution."

Considering recent price rises in gas and electricity markets, Grossi said, "We have seen this movie before with oil and with other volatility of prices.

"It is obvious that what we've seen with gas prices multiplying has only increased the interest - the urgency of interest - in countries which are dependent or fragile on gas provision from other suppliers," said Grossi.

COP "is the place to have such a message [of energy security]", said Grossi, "because you are looking in the frame of political decisions that are 10-15 years down the line. But that fits perfectly well. You need to have stable markets, price-wise and also environmentally-wise and in every respect."

Tett described the European Union's debate over its taxonomy of sustainable investments as "a bout of civil war." She asked whether Grossi thought nuclear would be included. "It will be," was his answer, "I'm absolutely confident. We saw the other day the President of the European Commission (Ursula von der Leyen) saying we need it as a stable source.

"I will not meddle," said Grossi. "I was in Brussels last week. It's not that people tell me what will happen. They are going to find some arrangement to include it."

He continued, "Let's look at the science. There's a political thing, but there is also science: the Joint Research Centre - the highest scientific body of the European Commission - came to the conclusion that nuclear does not do significant harm more than the other sources.

"It will be included in one way or another, for sure," he said. "In the EU, half of the countries using nuclear want more. I'm sure they will find some consensus."

Researched and written by World Nuclear News