Selling Nuclear: Fact-checking the Nuclear Seven

We are at a turning point that will potentially decide the future of nuclear power in Europe for generations. The ‘Green Taxonomy’ on sustainable finance is a European set of policy initiatives that aim for climate neutrality by 2050. It will create a system that environmentalists have been demanding for decades, designed to direct investments towards climate-friendly industries and end greenwashing activities that actually harm the environment. Last year, the leaders of seven member states wrote a letter to the European Commission calling for the inclusion of nuclear power in the list of climate-friendly, sustainable activities that will receive investment; a group of 87 members of the European Parliament did the same. A team of journalists will fact-check the claims in their letter by asking a range of independent nuclear and economic experts to weigh in on the pressing debate about the ”greenness” of nuclear power.

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About the project in French and German

German:

Wir befinden uns an einem Wendepunkt, der möglicherweise über die Zukunft der Kernenergie in Europa für Generationen entscheiden wird. Die "Grüne Taxonomie" für nachhaltige Finanzen ist ein europäisches Bündel politischer Initiativen mit dem Ziel der Klimaneutralität bis 2050. Damit wird ein System geschaffen, das Umweltschützer seit Jahrzehnten fordern, um Investitionen in klimafreundliche Industrien zu lenken und Greenwashing-Aktivitäten, die der Umwelt schaden, zu beenden. Letztes Jahr forderten die Staats- und Regierungschefs von sieben Mitgliedstaaten in einem Schreiben an die Europäische Kommission die Aufnahme der Kernenergie in die Liste der klimafreundlichen, nachhaltigen Aktivitäten, in die investiert werden soll; eine Gruppe von 87 Mitgliedern des Europäischen Parlaments tat dies ebenfalls. Ein Journalistenteam wird die Behauptungen in ihrem Brief überprüfen, indem es eine Reihe unabhängiger Nuklear- und Wirtschaftsexperten bittet, sich zu der dringenden Debatte über die "Umweltfreundlichkeit" der Kernkraft zu äußern.

French:

Nous sommes à un tournant qui décidera potentiellement de l'avenir de l'énergie nucléaire en Europe pour des générations. La «taxonomie verte» sur la finance soutenable est un ensemble d'initiatives politiques européennes qui visent la neutralité climatique d'ici 2050. Elle crée un système que les écologistes réclament depuis des décennies, conçu pour orienter les investissements vers des industries respectueuses du climat et mettre fin aux activités d'écoblanchiment qui effectivement nuire à l'environnement. L'année dernière, les dirigeants de sept États membres ont écrit une lettre à la Commission européenne appelant à l'inclusion de l'énergie nucléaire dans la liste des activités durables et respectueuses du climat qui bénéficieront d'investissements; un groupe de 87 membres du Parlement européen a fait de même. Une équipe de journalistes vérifiera les faits dans leur lettre en demandant à un éventail d'experts nucléaires et économiques indépendants de peser dans le débat pressant sur le «vert» de l'énergie nucléaire

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Most Europeans might not realize how pivotal this year could be in determining how their homes will be heated in the coming decades or how their societies, as a whole, will be generating energy.

The EU taxonomy will determine which industries are to be considered either “green” and sustainable or bad for the climate. Unsurprisingly, given the economic stakes for many sectors, efforts to influence the decision-making process have been forceful from all quarters.

This is the first of a three-part series called “Selling Nuclear,” which was conceived, in part, because news consumers are interested in understanding the merits of various forms of energy, but are seldom able to determine the truth or falsity of environmental claims. An important part of the EU Green Deal is the establishment of compulsory standards for reporting and criteria for what is considered sustainable, to prevent greenwashing. The determination of which industries meet the criteria must be open to public scrutiny and not negotiated behind closed doors.

Who are we?

We are a team of freelance journalists based in four of the seven EU member states whose leaders have asked the European Commission to include nuclear energy as a sustainable energy investment in the EU taxonomy. Together, we have the languages, skills, and connections to fact-check every claim made in the letter.

Why now?

This year the European Union will determine which energy sectors will be classified among green investments.

Why is it difficult to get funding for stories like this?

In the competitive worlds of energy and high-level politics, vested interests are very deliberate about what they want revealed and are not always forthcoming. While some economists and climate experts have penned key stories on the topic, these pieces often fail to reach a general audience.

A lack of media independence and media resources, combined with a failure in knowing how to communicate a scientific consensus to the general public (where it exists), has clouded public policy aims.

Why us?

The journalists leading the project have a long-time interest in environmental justice and have published extensively on these topics. They are eager to carry out in-depth investigations into the sources of economic, political, and environmental claims about nuclear energy and to separate the hype from the facts.

Team Members


CRISTIAN GHERASIM


Cristian focuses on European social and political affairs. His Euronews stories offer exclusive insight and premium interviews with top decision-makers and are picked up by national and international publications.
His focus is on making a difference. If you are not improving people’s lives, then you are wasting your time. A journalist must represent an idea, a possibility, that one really can change things for the better.

Reporting focus

Political affairs

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  • Freelance journalist

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CHRISTIANA MAURO


Christiana is an independent legal advocate, and her coverage of governance gaps, legal culture, and the social impacts of technology appears mostly on watchdog and educational online portals. She believes that evidence-based explanatory journalism is key to public accountability. Media outlets have a duty to publish balanced exposés, but some take the obligation to inform more lightly than others.

Reporting focus

Environmental justice; government transparency; public participation in decision-making processes

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THOMAS BRENT


After years of writing for small publications and running his own blog, Thomas ended up working for the Southeast Asia Globe in Cambodia. There, he started to write in-depth features on topics such as migration in Cambodia, Singapore's military service, and West Papua's struggle for independence. Now he is working as a journalist in France.

Reporting focus

Politics, European affairs, business, and culture

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  • Journalist for France’s leading English-language newspaper The Connexion

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LUCIE ČEJKOVÁ


Lucie is a Czech climate journalist who previously worked as co-editor of Czech Television regional daily news broadcasts. Since February 2021 she has been writing for Deník Referendum, an independent internet daily fully funded through reader contributions.
She has always enjoyed a challenge. She believes that quality journalism is one of the main pillars of truly democratic societies. For these reasons, she chose to become a journalist and finds it an enormously fulfilling experience.

Reporting focus

Climate change

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This project is co-funded by the European Commission under the pilot project: “Supporting investigative journalism and media freedom in the EU” (DG CONNECT). This text reflects the author’s view and the Commission is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information it contains.