Washington, DC—Top European officials and environmental groups today expressed opposition to the Clinton/Gore Administration's position to equate nuclear power with sustainable technology as a clean source of energy. This opposition stems from the Administration's insistence last week at an international meeting in Lyon, France, that the Kyoto Protocol, an international climate agreement, must allow nuclear power to receive clean air credits.
Dr. Hendrik Vygen, Deputy Director General of Germany's Environment Ministry, said “there was discussion (at Lyon) of an EU positive list (of energy technologies eligible for clean air credits) which doesn’t include nuclear, and the U.S. was vehemently opposed to this.” Dr. Vygen spoke this morning at a press conference sponsored by NIRS/WISE and Ozone Action.
International leaders are scheduled to gather in The Hague, Netherlands, beginning November 13 at the COP6 (Council of Parties) meeting to work out implementation details of the Kyoto Protocol.
Alexander De Roo, Vice-President and coordinator, Environment & Public Health & Consumer Policy Committee of the European Parliament, warned, “if we do not have a resolution with (the nuclear power issue), there will not be an agreement in the Hague.”
“We were very disappointed with the U.S. support for nuclear power last week. With the official November climate change negotiations fast approaching, very little of substance was accomplished in Lyon because of U. S. intransigence on nuclear power,” said Michael Mariotte, executive director, Nuclear Information and Resource Service.
Kert Davies, Science Policy Director of Ozone Action, a group working exclusively on global warming issues, said, “for many governments and NGOs, nuclear power is the line in the sand on accepting the Kyoto Protocol.”
Citizens of many nations, including African, Indian, and Canadian NGOs, the Alliance of Small Island States, and Group of Latin American and Caribbean countries, oppose credit for nuclear power. Not only would nuclear power get credit, the planned U.S. scheme would make nuclear power credits equal to sustainable energy.
Alexander Kuzma, executive director of Children of Chornobyl Relief Fund, described the continuing and still-growing effects of the 1986 Chornobyl atomic reactor disaster, and pleaded with the world's governments to not allow their response to global warming to become a legacy of more Chornobyls.
At the very least, the U.S. position would support exporting nuclear power and its dangers (including nuclear waste, huge economic costs, nuclear weapons material, chronic radioactive releases, and abuse of democratic principles) all over the world. Ultimately, the U.S. position on nuclear power could derail the whole Kyoto Protocol, a situation few would applaud.
“The U.S. should recognize that nuclear power is not a sustainable energy source and should not treat it as one,” concluded Cindy Folkers, NIRS. “We should learn from our mistakes, not export them to others. Is this the legacy the Clinton/Gore administration wants to leave?”
Background materials on the nuclear power and global warming issue, the Kyoto Protocol and the Clean Development Mechanism are available on NIRS' website, www.nirs.org.