(December 23, 2005) At the first meeting of the Members of the Kyoto Protocol (MOP1) in Montreal at the beginning of December, the big decision taken was to start negotiations for a second climate treaty as a follow-up to the Kyoto Treaty, which expires in 2012.
(640.5742) WISE Amsterdam - Among the observing NGOs and businesses was the low-key but unmistakable presence of the nuclear lobby, notably from International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and European Nuclear Society (ENS).
Both bodies had organised side events at the Conference, and there they repeated the predictable tales about nuclear energy being a necessary part of the solution to climate change. Given the rise in fossil fuel prices, they claimed that there is a role for nuclear energy to play, if not as a permanent solution then as a solution for a transitional period - although considering that industry thinks 50 years is short-term, who knows how long they envisage this ‘transition’ to be. They boasted that public support for nuclear energy is growing fast and were opposed by the majority of the audience, most notably by young Finnish anti-nuclear activists who stressed that their government had acted against popular opinion when it decided to start the first new nuclear plant project in western Europe since the Chernobyl accident.
Despite sticking to its usual ridiculous arguments, the lobby did manage to come up with one new and rather hilarious argument in its own favour - that a nuclear reactor does not take much space! Possibly an argument suitable for use on the NIMBY groups fighting the expansion of onshore wind farms because turbines obscure the landscape…
More worrisome than the predictable presentations from the nuclear industry were the contributions of green activists promoting nuclear power, such as Greenpeace co-founder Patrick Moore and Gaia-theorist James Lovelock who featured in a documentary shown at the Conference. While accusing opponents of being anti-science and anti-technology, they claimed that the new generations of nuclear reactors are reliable and safe. Lovelock, when confronted with questions on radioactivity and waste, simply responded that of course there would be more cancers and accidents, but that this was acceptable because climate change is threatening the whole earth system. Both appeared equally blind to the fact that real sustainable solutions are available, can replace nuclear capacity in many instances when coupled with efficiency and that every penny invested in nuclear power instead of renewables is wasted by an industry without a future but that, with the collusion of governments and interest groups, will do and say anything to ensure its own survival. In the United States, for example, it is calculated that for the last 40 years, for every dollar spent on wind energy research, 30 dollars were spent on nuclear research.
These issues were discussed at a workshop organised by WISE at the Conference. Activists from different continents agreed there that is an urgent need for the anti nuclear community to follow the climate debate more closely. Having succeeded in keeping nuclear out of the Kyoto Protocol by presenting a united front in 2001, we need to do more to stop the nuclear industry disguising itself as the solution for climate change as is reported on a horrifyingly regular basis in much of the world’s media.
The general public on the whole seems to have forgotten our basic arguments about nuclear safety, waste and radiation and have largely become used to nuclear power as part of their reality. Lifetime extensions of aged reactors in countries worldwide are contributing to the feeling that ‘it is as it is’. Moreover, there has not been any really major accidents for the media to focus on in 20 years (luckily), which contributes to the general public’s view of nuclear as being ‘safe’ now. The recent IAEA/WHO report trivialising the effects of Chernobyl has not been placed under critical mainstream media review in any country, as far as we are aware. The report was accepted by the media because it originated from a body that should be trustworthy, the UN, and because the press release was a clever product of nuclear spin, well timed to precede the report and seemingly detailed enough in its four pages to make journalists deem reading the full report (at a whopping 600 plus pages) unnecessary. The arguments against the astronomical costs of nuclear energy are loosing their value as oil prices continue to rise and increasingly, security of supply is used becoming the buzz phrase in the promotion of nuclear.
What we have to do is to borrow an old political phrase and go back to basics, repeat the arguments against nuclear power over and over again in easily accessible language and stress the potential of other solutions at every opportunity. We need to show that we are not just clinging to our beliefs for the sake of it and that we are aware and do understand that climate change is a real threat and deal with people’s rightful concerns.
The nuclear industry is trying to discredit alternatives from renewable sources and we need to make it known that realistic scenario’s do exist - at least for the European Union - to change our whole energy production to solar, wind, small hydro and sustainable biomass before 2050. Although many people now perceive climate change to be a bigger problem than nuclear power, we must move the debate on from a choice between the lesser two evils as it is currently being portrayed. We have the same solution for both evils and it is called sustainable energy.
Source and contact: WISE Amsterdam
Chernobyl 20 Years On: Nuclear Costs & Energy Futures
City Hall, London - 23 March 2006
8th Irish & UK Local Authorities Standing Conference on Nuclear Hazards
The conference will consider the safety and security issues around new nuclear construction; prospects for implementing policy for UK radioactive wastes; the vulnerability of nuclear sites on the Irish Sea coast to climate change impacts; and opportunities to meet energy needs and tackle climate change without recourse to nuclear energy.
For the first time the conference will link up with Chernobyl Children’s Charities and leading environmental and energy campaigners for joint morning plenary presentations. In the afternoon each sector: local government; charities; and campaigners, will separate and hold their own meetings within City Hall.
Conference Aims to:
- Review the health and environmental consequences of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster and its continuing impact on the British Isles
- Report on voluntary action to mitigate health impacts
- Report on key developments in UK nuclear energy policy and waste management policy process and how to engage with them
- Report on innovative strategies to meet future energy needs with low environmental and health costs
This conference offers a unique opportunity to be thoroughly briefed about these key policy issues and about how to engage with them. Places are limited and early registration is recommended.
Contact Nuclear Policy and Information Unit / Nuclear Free Local Authorities Secretariat, tel. +44 (0) 161 234 3244, fax. +44 (0)161 234 3379, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, website: http://www.nuclearpolicy.info
9.30-10.20 Registration, welcome and opening speeches
10.20 Chernobyl’s Legacy
Chair: Cllr Darren Johnson, Member of the London Assembly
- Rebecca Harms, MEP (provisional confirmation)
- John Urquhart, Epidemiologist (confirmed)
- Linda Walker, Chernobyl Children’s Project UK (confirmed)
Midday Innovative Energy Futures
Chair: Cllr Michael O’Dowd, Louth County Council (confirmed)
- Jean McSorley, Senior Nuclear Campaigner, Greenpeace UK (confirmed)
- Antony Froggatt, Energy Analyst (confirmed)
14.00 Sector Workshops
- Local Authorities, Committee Room 5
- Chernobyl Charities, Committee Room 3
- Environmental Groups, Committee Room 2
17.00 Conference Close
Local Authorities Sector Workshop
Committee Room 5, 14.00-17.00
- Nuclear Safety & Security
- Development Control & Accountability through the Planning Process
- Policy on UK Radioactive Waste Management
- Climate Change Impacts on the Irish Sea Coast
- Developing the UK & Irish Nuclear Free Local Authorities Network