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Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

Support for nukes post-Kyoto?

(November 18, 2005) The European Parliament debate on a new report on European post-Kyoto politics to combat climate change ("Beating Global Climate Change", also known as the Wijkman report, November 16, 2005) has been interpreted by some as giving the nuclear industry a boost.

The original draft contained text calling for nuclear to be excluded from those energy sources eligible for financial aid from European credit facilities and/or any other public European money. This text was subsequently removed by a majority vote on November 16.

An amendment, included by the Greens in the process towards the plenary votes, which explicitly stated that nuclear cannot be part of the solution for climate change (because of waste, proliferation etc.) was defeated.

One amendment that stated that the EP "Calls on the Commission to set ambitious, but realistic objectives which lay down very low CO2-emission, CO2-free and CO-2 neutral energy technologies should cover 60% if EU electricity needs by 2020, as a contribution to achieving European objectives in the areas of climate protection and security of supply" and could have been used to support the spurious claims that nuclear energy emits no CO2 was however defeated.

The Wijkman report no longer contains anything on nuclear. The good text is out and the better one did not get in.

Sources: The Wijkman report - "Beating Global Climate Change", November 16, 2005


Europe badly prepared for nuclear decommissioning
On November 17, The European parliament adopted a report that states that Europe is badly prepared for decommissioning and that more effort was needed to make obsolete power plants in the EU safe.

Speaking at a press conference the European Parliament's rapporteur on nuclear decommissioning funds said "Financial and technical preparations for the decommissioning of nuclear power plants are unsatisfactory in most EU member states. Against this background any discussion about extending the life-span of such plants, let alone building new ones, is irresponsible."

The report is an important step in the right direction but in order to ensure that security and safety levels are met, more effort is needed. The EP called on the European Commission to create and apply with transparency, a EU-wide strategy for decommissioning to guarantee that safety is the number one priority and is considered before economic factors.

Rebecca Harms, author of the report stated "more than one third of the nuclear power plants operating in EU member states at the moment will be shut down within 20 years. The closure of a nuclear power plant does not, however, eliminate the dangers that nuclear energy poses to public health and the environment. During the closure and decommissioning of plants high safety standards must therefore be observed and sufficient funds must be available in time, and over a period of several decades. At present this is not the case. The biggest problems are to be found in new member states.

The Commission estimates the costs of decommissioning a nuclear plant are between EUR200m and EUR1bn. Sufficient availability of these funds must be secured - equally in the interest of the environmental and precautionary principles of the EU as in the interest of a liberalised energy market - through autonomous funding systems available in every member state. The structure and the volume of the funding must above all take the technical safety aspects into consideration in order to prevent possible negative long-term consequences for humans and for the environment. The financial means should be managed separately from the budget of the respective companies and should be outwardly transparent. To avoid the distortion of competition the Commission must decide on the permitted designated purpose of the funds. In the current report these requests are watered down."

Source: The Greens/EFA in European Parliament, press release, November 16, 2005