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INTERVIEW / Nicola Beer:

INTERVIEW / Nicola Beer: "We need energy solutions for the whole society, the current EU taxonomy is poorly made"

The German vice-president of the European Parliament comments on Berlin's decision to fire up coal stations to face gas shortage: "In the war context, we must ensure that there is heating in winter and that energy remains available and affordable for everyone"

Brussels – Austria, Germany, The Netherlands. Considering the Russian state-controlled gas giant Gazprom’s cut supplies of natural gas, some EU Member States decided to fire up coal stations. Also in Berlin, SPD-Greens-liberals coalition will reopen some coal-fired power stations already closed, also to face any further gas cuts from Moscow. In an interview with GEA – Green Economy Agency (a news agency of the same editorial group to which Eunews belongs), European Parliament Vice-President Nicola Beer, member of the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE), explained what motivated Olaf Scholz‘s cabinet to make this decision. Furthermore, the German MEP (Renew Europe) also emphasized the criticality of the current EU taxonomy (the classification system, establishing a list of environmentally sustainable economic activities), which will be voted during this week’s EP plenary session.

Eunews: Vice-President Beer, are you concerned for the respect of the European climate law, considering the German decision to fire up coal stations to face gas shortage from Russia?

Beer: Draining Putin’s system and no longer financing his war machine is our priority, there must be no blinders of thinking on using all possible energy sources. Having Russia as a one-sided energy supplier was a mistake made during the Merkel era and that’s one reason for Germany’s unfortunate dependence on Russia.

E: So, what should be the solution?

B: Now, we have to cope with the geopolitical reality, especially when it comes to citizen’s needs. We need bearable solutions for the whole society, not only for a wealthy elite. We need availability, affordability and sustainability. So we have to use the whole toolbox: acceleration of renewables, but in such an emergency scenario also longer use of coal and nuclear energy must be an option. Everything else only plays into Putin’s hands.

E: Some EU Member States are coming back to coal, some others are pushing on nuclear energy. How do you think the Russian war in Ukraine will condition next week vote on taxonomy in the EP plenary session?

B: Of course, it is absurd that gas and nuclear energy have now to be labeled as green. We are caught in a poorly made piece of legislation: the current taxonomy as a labeling system specifically categorizes every economic activity, rather than just providing information about green investment opportunities. In the war context, we must ensure that there is heating in winter and that energy remains available and affordable for everyone.

E: What is the impact of the Russian war in Ukraine on the work of the European Parliament regarding the green transition? Are the European Green Deal objectives getting delayed because of this reason?

B: We have to stick to the climate goals, because global climate can’t wait. We need to use the different energy resources of the toolbox in a new mixture: on our way to achieve this, we need to accelerate the ramp-up of the renewables, since we have to use the bridging technologies like gas and coal longer as foreseen. The adjustment of the time plan is key for our path out of Putin’s dependency without delaying a successful transition.

E: Germany set the goal to eliminate the dependency from coal by 2030. Is this goal still achievable now?

B: Our ambition is to make it work. In addition to the mentioned toolbox, we have to make available completely new sources. For example, fusion nuclear energy: this new technology could be available sooner and faster, if we make efficient and smart investments in this direction now. In addition to research and development, we have to adapt our regulations, so that we can we achieve the necessary diversification of energy sources and, at the same, time use clean energy without dependencies.

E: With Russia blackmailing Europe and Germany, and the energy crisis worsening, what can be a solution on the long-term to secure energy supplies and to protect the environment at the same time?

B: We need, there is no doubt, to accelerate the energy transition in order to be on an implementing and operational level with regard to renewables energies, we need renewables as fast as possible for a sovereign European energy approach. Nevertheless, gas will still remain an important bridging technology. Accordingly, we need more effort to get other gas delivery partners, for example Israel.