Australia’s main mining lobby wants the EU to define nuclear power as ‘sustainable’.

The Minerals Council of Australia (MCA) has made a written submission to a European Commission climate policy debate. 

In it, the lobby calls on the EU to change its thinking about environmentally-friendly power sources. It urges regulators to class fossil fuels with carbon capture and storage (CCS) and nuclear power as ‘sustainable activities’. 

The MCA says that favouring solar, wind and biofuels over nuclear and CCS will “increase the cost of reducing CO2 emissions”.

It quoted the International Energy Agency, which has called for  emissions from existing energy fleets to be significantly reduced by 2030 if countries want to reach net zero emissions by 2050. 

The minerals council says CCS and other technologies are required to meet this goal.

“Underpinning the MCA’s concern is the broad-ranging investment impacts the taxonomy will have, not just within the European Union but anywhere European Union-based firms invest,” the submission said.

The lobby has been accused of trying to export its negative approach to climate policy to new jurisdictions. The view of the peak body has led some of its largest backers to reconsider their membership. 

The commission was meant to release its latest sustainable finance rules in January, but the decision was delayed by countries that wanted gas to be deemed a sustainable energy source.

Nuclear energy is a major power source in some EU countries, but it is in decline in the developed world. Analysis suggests it is more expensive and less efficient at reducing emissions than renewable energy.

CCS technologies often involve capturing emissions and pumping them underground. The idea is still at an early stage of development, and has been successful largely in increasing oil extraction from underground reservoirs.

One of the world’s CCS projects, the Petra Nova power generation facility in Texas, was shut down last year due to poor financial performance.