Nuclear Information and Resource Service

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Nuclear Information and Resource Service
World Information Service on Energy

November 13, 2000

Peer de Rijk, WISE 312-061-2636 8
Michael Mariotte, NIRS 301-270-6477 12
Paul Gunter, NIRS 301-270-6477 18

New Letter from U.S. Vice-President Al Gore Suggests Change in U.S. Position on Nuclear Power in Upcoming Climate Change Talks

A new letter from Vice-President Al Gore suggests a possible change in the U.S. position on nuclear power and the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) at the COP6 international negotiations beginning today in The Hague, Netherlands.

The November 3 letter, faxed to Harvey Wasserman, senior advisor to the Washington-based Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS) and NIRS' executive director Michael Mariotte, states a position contrary to that previously supported by the Clinton-Gore Administration.

Gore wrote, "I do not support any increased reliance on nuclear energy. Moreover I have disagreed with those who would classify nuclear energy as clean or renewable." Gore said that the Administration's legislation on electricity restructuring "specifically excluded both nuclear and large scale hydro-energy, and instead promoted increased investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy. It is my view that climate change policies should do the same."

A key tenet of the Administration's position—stated at a meeting in Lyon, France in September—has been that nuclear power should be treated the same as renewable energy under the Clean Development Mechanism. The CDM allows developed nations to achieve greenhouse gas emissions reduction credits by providing low-emissions technologies to developing countries. This U.S. position is opposed by the European Union, and numerous other nations throughout the world, which have proposed a CDM that does not include nuclear power.

Gore's statement that climate change policies should exclude nuclear power and large scale hydro-energy contradicts the stated U.S. position, and presumably indicates that the U.S. will change its position at the COP 6 talks beginning today.

"This is welcome news," said NIRS' executive director Michael Mariotte, who is in The Hague for the COP6 conference. "The previous U.S. position was indefensible on both environmental and economic grounds. We hope this means the U.S. now recognizes that allowing nuclear power to be equated with renewables and energy efficiency would simply be trading one environmental disaster for another, and would—given nuclear's huge cost—be remarkably ineffective at reducing greenhouse emissions."


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