Prime Minister Alexander De Croo (Open Vld) is beaming in the photo of the countries that demand three times more nuclear energy, but Belgium does not sign the declaration. There is no agreement within the government for this.
Saturday, December 2, 2023 at 7:37 PM
In his entire speech for the UN climate summit in Dubai, Prime Minister Alexander De Croo (Open Vld) does not mention nuclear energy. Belgium is not one of the twenty countries that have committed to tripling nuclear energy worldwide by 2050. But the Prime Minister is in the photo among the heads of government of all those countries. Next year, Belgium will host an international summit on nuclear energy, co-organized by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
The prime minister even stood next to US climate envoy John Kerry and French President Emmanuel Macron when the declaration of intent was announced. “We know from the science and facts that we cannot achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 without nuclear power,” Kerry said. And that it will therefore be impossible to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees without nuclear energy.
Not first time
“If the intention is to get to zero percent emissions as quickly as possible – that is why we are here – then nuclear energy must be part of the energy mix,” De Croo said. It is a message that he and his party are now highlighting. Even though not so long ago, the Flemish liberals were well on their way to closing all nuclear power stations in their own country. Only when Russia invaded Ukraine did they make a U-turn and the two youngest nuclear power stations in Belgium were able to remain open. Since then, Open Vld has once again turned its full attention to nuclear energy. Much to the chagrin of the ecologists in the government.
Green co-chair Nadia Naji criticized De Croo in her weekend interview in the Nieuwsblad, because he suggested that the nuclear power stations could remain open for another twenty years. And that one more could be added to stay open. “It is not very clear to me who is speaking: Prime Minister De Croo or the De Croo campaign? It seems to me the latter, because this is not realistic,” Naji sneered. “What choice are we going to make? Invest in the latest technologies or patch up old nuclear power stations?” That also explains why De Croo’s scribble does not include the ambition to multiply nuclear energy times three. The coalition partners are not on board. The fact that the Prime Minister is now pushing the nuclear cart even harder at the highest international level will not really go down well.
And it’s not the first time anymore. The Greens were already on their hind legs when De Croo argued for a pause button for the European Commission’s nature restoration law. This must restore biodiversity in Europe. The additional rules would only make it more difficult for the industry, the liberals believe, while the industry should be the driving force behind making the transition to lower emissions. According to the ecologists, this only wastes valuable time. “Apparently the Prime Minister has forgotten that he has to speak on behalf of a government,” said Naji’s colleague Jeremie Vaneeckhout.
With the elections approaching, it will only happen more often.