The Hague, Netherlands. The United States has given signs that it may be reconsidering its position favoring nuclear power as a means of addressing global climate change. Responding to a reporter who asked whether nuclear energy should be included in the Kyoto Protocol’s “Clean Development Mechanism” (CDM), David B. Sandalow, a member of the U.S. delegation to the COP6 convention underway in The Hague said last night, “Let me be clear. We are open to discussing this issue as we go forward. We have long had concerns about nuclear energy. Those concerns relate to safety, waste disposal, non-proliferation, costs and public acceptance. In order for us to succeed in these negotiations, all parties are going to have to show flexibility.”
As recently as a September pre-COP6 meeting in Lyon, France, the U.S. delegation was insisting that nuclear power be treated the same as sustainable renewable energy technologies in the climate change negotiations.
The new U.S. position, which appears to be still evolving, comes on the heels of yesterday’s release of a letter from Vice-President Al Gore to the Nuclear Information and Resource Service. The letter, dated November 3, 2000, expressed Gore’s opposition to “any increased reliance on nuclear energy.” Gore also stated that he disagrees “with those who would classify nuclear energy as clean or renewable” and added that the Administration has proposed electricity restructuring legislation that specifically excluded nuclear and large scale hydro and “instead promoted increased investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy. It is my view that climate change policies should do the same.”
“We welcome the news that the U.S. recognizes the serious problems with nuclear power and seems to be backing off its previous insistence that nuclear power be included under the Kyoto Protocol’s Clean Development Mechanism,” said Michael Mariotte, executive director of NIRS. Mariotte is in The Hague to attend the COP6 meeting.
“But the U.S. hasn’t moved far enough. There need be no more discussion about this issue. Unless nuclear power is explicitly excluded from the CDM, it will become impossible for the Kyoto Protocol to be ratified either in the U.S. Senate or in enough other countries to achieve international implementation. Public opposition to this technology is simply too great. Because of the many problems with nuclear technologynow acknowledged by the U.S. delegation–nuclear has no place in the Kyoto Protocol.” Mariotte added.