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Saturday, February 24, 2024

‘This isn’t a climate solution’ – Campaigners flay COP28 call to triple nuclear energy

At the UN Climate Talks on Saturday, December 2, 2023, the United States, United Kingdom, France, Romania, Sweden, the United Arab Emirates, Japan, and South Korea are amongst a group of more than 20 countries that announced plans to triple nuclear energy production by 2050.

Nuclear Plant
A nuclear power plant in Doel, Belgium. Photo credit: Julien Warnand / European Press Photo Agency

But a team of 350.org campaigners has frowned at the call, referring to nuclear power as “dangerous”, saying that renewable energy solutions need to be safe, and justly sourced.

Masayoshi Iyoda, Japan Campaigner from 350.org, said: “There is no space for dangerous nuclear power to accelerate the decarbonisation needed to achieve the Paris climate goal. In Japan, we experienced the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Disaster in 2011, of which the cause is still unidentified and from which many are still suffering. Japan must stop using the climate crisis to justify its addiction to nuclear energy while it allows carbon-intensive industries to prolong fossil projects. It is nothing more than a dangerous distraction.

“The attempt of a ‘nuclear renaissance’ led by nuclear industries’ lobbyists since the 2000s has never been successful – it is simply too costly, too risky, too undemocratic, and too time-consuming. We already have cheaper, safer, democratic, and faster solutions to the climate crisis, and they are renewable energy and energy efficiency.”

Nicolò Wojewoda, 350.org Europe Regional Director, said: “The United Kingdom has a responsibility to phase out unabated fossil fuels by 2030 and to invest in renewable energy transition, disregarding unproven and dangerous technologies like nuclear. A global renewable energy package that would see the tripling of renewable capacity by 2030 is on the table at COP28 – this must remain the focus of the negotiations. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is arriving in Dubai amid a lack of public support at home following his failure to take climate solutions seriously. The UK must make good on its historical responsibility to address the climate crisis with real, proven solutions like wind and solar – not get sidetracked by more toxic distractions.”

Jeff Ordower, 350.org North America director, said: “While we appreciate that the Biden administration is looking to invest in alternatives to fossil fuels, we don’t have time to waste on dangerous distractions like nuclear energy. We absolutely need to triple renewable energy to reach our goals, alongside a full phaseout of all fossil fuels. But those renewable energy solutions need to be safe, justly sourced, and justly implemented, like wind and solar. We’ll be watching for whether the US and other top emitting countries try to keep us focused on distractions like these instead of fully committing to the swift, complete transition we need.”

Soraya Fettih, France Campaigner, 350.org, said: “Investing now in nuclear energy is an inefficient route to take to reduce emissions at the scale and pace needed to tackle climate change. Nuclear energy takes much longer than renewable energy to be operational. Given the urgency of the climate crisis, nuclear energy has no place as a focus at COP28. Instead, France should keep its eyes on the prize and support a complete fossil fuel phaseout and catch up on the deployment of renewable energies to achieve the objectives France set itself.”

Joseph Sikulu, 350 Pacific Managing Director: “The legacy of nuclear power in the Asia Pacific region is a harmful one, as is the legacy of climate-destroying fossil fuels. This is not a climate solution, and it should not be greenwashed as one. It is not safe for our people nor is it affordable. To address the worst of the climate crisis, we need to urgently phase out fossil fuels and transition to genuine climate solutions like safe, clean, fair renewable energy.”

Landry Ninteretse, Regional Director, 350Africa.org: “As the US is reported to seek nuclear energy collaborations with African nations, it is clear that the risks and costs associated with nuclear energy far outweigh the benefits and would not serve the interests of local communities in Africa. Africa’s best and only bet at a safe and sustainable energy future is in utilisation of its renewable energy potential. This requires hefty investments into Africa’s vast renewable energy resources. Rather than mulling over nuclear energy, focus should instead be on galvanising financial resources to support an equitable shift away from fossil fuels to a renewable energy system rooted in justice.”

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