On February 2, the European Commission decided to label nuclear and gas as sustainable energy sources under certain conditions. The heavy backlash which began after the EU first introduced its plans in January is led by Austria and Luxembourg, who, according to a tweet by Luxembourg's energy minister Claude Turms, will "consider further legal steps" to combat this decision. As important as the move towards cleaner and more climate-friendly fuel sources is becoming, it might still be some time before the world can ditch coal and gas in particular.
As our chart based on data from Our World in Data shows, coal and gas combined amount to more than half of the world's current energy production. Especially bigger economies are still largely reliant on fossil fuels for their energy needs. For example, Australia gets three quarters of its energy from coal, gas and oil, followed by India with 74 percent. The electricity mix in China and the U.S. is comprised of 66 percent and 60 percent fossil fuels, respectively. While the U.S. relies on nuclear energy and renewables for 20 percent each, China's energy mix already contains 29 percent renewables. This percentage will likely continue to grow at a faster rate than fossil fuel as an energy source in the People's Republic. As it stands now though, the reliance on coal also makes it by far the biggest polluter per capita. In 2020, the coal industry released roughly 1.8 tons of CO₂ per human on the planet into the atmosphere, followed by 1.4 tons from the oil and roughly one ton from the gas sector.
To turn the tide on climate change, a short-term solution could indeed be turning to nuclear energy, a strategy that countries like France, Japan and India are already banking on. In the long run, the low emission rate and efficiency of nuclear power plants are unlikely to outweigh environmental issues caused by the lack of proper storage solutions and the looming threat of nuclear meltdowns like Chernobyl and Fukushima. As it stands now, the wealthiest countries in the world are unlikely to completely divest from fossil fuels any time soon: Between 2020 and 2021, the G7 countries invested $189 billion in fossil fuels and only $147 billion in renewables like wind, solar, hydropower or geothermal energy.