July 24, 2001
Victory! Nuclear power is OUT of the Kyoto Protocol, ruled out of both Joint Implementation and the CDM.
The text is BETTER than we got at the Hague, as it includes JI and covers unilateral CDM projects. It's an excellent outcome!
The language is in two parts, one in JI, one in the CDM. It reads:
Article 6 (JI)
The Conference of Parties agrees:
2. To recognise that Parties included in Annex I [ie industrialised countries with emissions reduction targets] are to refrain from using emission reduction units [carbon credits] generated from nuclear facilities to meet their commitments under Article 3.1
Article 12 (CDM)
The Conference of Parties agrees:
2. To recognise that Parties included in Annex I are to refrain from using certified emission reductions [carbon credits] generated from nuclear facilities to meet their commitments under Article 3.1"
in normal language this means that the Parties have agreed that nuclear power plants won't be used to generate carbon credits, and as a result there will not be JI or CDM nuclear projects. Simply stated, if the credits can't be used by Annex I countries, then there is no point generating them. They have zero value. And if their value is zero they cannot be used to reduce the cost of a new reactor. I've put a small Q&A at the bottom which provides more information on this.
Why is the language framed this way? The language is indirect because Japan and India didn't want to include direct exclusion language that could be seen as a criticism of their domestic programs. So text was drafted that achieves the result we wanted (nukes out) without actually saying it explicitly. A journalist here was told by the Japanese that they didn't want to give green groups a weapon to use against them! (although this text is) Thus, the onus for not using nuclear power was put on Annex I Parties.
Some here have noted that the language actually refers to "carbon credits generated from nuclear facilities" and asked us if that means that there will be such projects. The answer is no, that the language was phrased this way to appease India, but in reality it means that there will not be CDM or JI nuclear projects because the carbon credits they would emit if built would be worthless.
Sorry if this is a bit byzantine and difficult to understand, but be assurred the bottom line is that the Kyoto Protocol will not subsidise nuclear power, and the industry's attempts to portray themselves as a solution to climate change have suffered a serious setback.
Congratulations and thanks to all of you who have made this victory possible over the past couple of years!!!!
Ben Pearson (Greenpeace) Petr Hlobil (CEE Bankwatch) Corine Veithen (FOE Austria, GLOBAL 2000) Jason Anderson (CAN Europe)
Questions and Answers about the Kyoto Protocol nuclear text
What does this decision mean?
This decision is a rejection of the nuclear industry's argument that it is a solution to climate change. The 186 countries who have negotiated the rules of the Kyoto Protocol have made it clear that nuclear power is not part of the solution by refusing to allow nuclear projects to be subsidised by the Kyoto Protocol's "mechanisms" - the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and Joint Implementation (JI). The industry lost its attempt to create a new subsidy for reactor construction in developing countries and eastern europe.
How would the CDM and JI have benefited the nuclear industry?
The high capital cost of reactors is one of the biggest barriers to new construction, and it was hoped that carbon credits would bsring the price down. For example, a 700MW coal fired power station emits about 4.5 million tonnes of CO2 a year. If a nuclear reactor was built instead, it could be claimed that it offsets this amount of CO2. Estimates of the value of CO2 per tonne vary but nuclear projects would likely have realised a large amount of credits (due to their large size) which could have been worth up to hundreds of millions of dollars. An agreement between the western supplier of the reactor and the developing country in which it was being built to subtract the value of the carbon credits from the capital cost of the reactor could have greatly improve the economics of new construction. There would have also been a political benefit in being able to claim nuclear projects as "clean development" projects that were being used to fight climate change.
How will the text prevent this?
The current text states that Annex I countries won't use credits from a nuclear project to help them meet their emission reduction target under the Kyoto Protocol. This means these credits will have zero value and thus cannot be used to reduce the cost of new reactor construction.
What is article 3.1?
Article 3.1 of the Kyoto Protocol commits industrialised (Annex I) countries to meet the emission reduction target set for them in the Kyoto Protocol. The language means that they cannot use nuclear credits to do this.
What about Parties not included in Annex I? Can they use nuclear credits?
Parties not included in Annex I do not have a reduction commitment and as a result have no need for carbon credits. Credits only have value if they can be sold to Annex I countries for use in meeting their emission reduction target. The language says that Annex I countries cannot do this.