Open letter to French delegates

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Published on 10/06/2019

The open letter to French delegates recently elected to the European Parliament

Click here to see the list of French MEPs to whom the letter was sent

Write them in your turn to support them in the difficult political exercise we ask them to undertake.

Dear Members of the European Parliament,

Nuclear energy accounts for 50% of carbon-free energy in Europe.

Our association, Voices of Nuclear, aims to help set the record straight on nuclear energy and hence contribute to rationalise decisions regarding it.

In view of recent political decisions in France and in Europe, we take the liberty of writing to you today to bring to your attention the importance of a provision (Taxonomy of sustainable economic activities) on which you will be called to give your opinion in future discussions between the Parliament and the Council.

On 28 March 2019, the European Parliament chose to exclude nuclear energy from the future list of green investments as a “power generation activity producing non-renewable waste“. An expression that objectively means nothing.

This exclusion is a political choice and not an environmental one. If included in the law, it would deprive nuclear projects of the support essential to any infrastructure project, which only confident investors can provide, and hence prove very detrimental.

If this provision were to pass, it would have a concrete and short-term negative impact on:

  • the European Union’s chances of complying with the Paris Agreements,
  • Europe’s energy security. The second largest economy in the world would become even more dependent on the three energy giants, the United States, Russia and China (which produce 84% of the production of rare earths needed for renewables),
  • the French economy, which would be directly affected, as nuclear power is the 3rd largest industry in France with 220,000 direct jobs, 2,600 companies and 6 billion euros in export sales.

We thank you for having chosen to represent the French people in the European Parliament, including the 220,000 direct workers in the nuclear sector and all those whose activity and employment they sustain.


Dear Members of the European Parliament,

On March 28th, 2019, the European Parliament opened the way to the exclusion of nuclear energy from the list of “green” investments. This list is meant to specifically guide future funding and associated measures toward environmentally sustainable measures to combat climate change. If ratified, this decision would endanger Europe’s energy security and the European Union’s already slim chances of complying with the Paris Agreement.

Nuclear energy is one of the lowest carbon emitting energy sources we have. It emits only 12 grams of CO2 equivalent per kWh, the same as wind power. Over its life cycle, this is four times less than solar energy1. But above all – and this is what makes it a necessary solution for climate change – it emits 68 times less greenhouse gases per unit of electrical energy delivered than modern coal-fired power plants, and 40 times less than modern gas-fired power plants.

In the summary for decision-makers of its latest report published in 2018, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)2 highlighted four scenarios to contain global warming below 1.5°C.

All these scenarios for the stabilization of climate change foresee an increase in the share of nuclear energy by 2050: at least by 98% and up to 501%.

Containing climate change is a literally vital issue for a large part of the world’s population in the coming decades. Success is far from certain, because fossil fuels are still the fastest growing energy source3. The contribution of the atom to climate stability can be significant in reversing this trend.

Nuclear power is the world’s 2nd largest low-carbon energy source, and one of the few (along with hydro power) that can be scaled to fit demand. Excluding it from the list of “green” investments would significantly reduce the European Union’s chances of meeting its greenhouse gas emission targets and ensuring a desirable future for its younger generations.

Finally, nuclear energy is the guarantor of a significant part of our energy security and independence, as we face fossil resource depletion, for the world in general and for Europe in particular. Thanks to the strategic fuel reserves that States can build up, equivalent to many years of consumption, nuclear energy contributes to European resilience in an increasingly unstable world.

Therefore, we are asking the Members of the newly elected European Parliament to reconsider this decision.

Asking for the reintegration of nuclear energy into the list of sustainable investments may represent a difficult political challenge. Nevertheless, it is a pragmatic and necessary measure, adapted to the challenges of the planet and respectful of our heritage and of our future.

Beyond its strategic importance for Europe’s future, it would also be a strong message, and a useful reminder on the international scene, that European leadership in climate policy is both realistic and legitimate.

1 IPCC, 5th Assessment Report, 3rd Working Group

2 IPCC, 2018: Summary for Policymakers. In: Global Warming of 1.5°C

3 IEA, Global Energy & CO2 Status Report, 2019