Greenpeace calls on World Energy Congress to quit nuclear power and promote an ’energy revolution’
Rome, Italy — Two Greenpeace activists this evening unfurled a five by seven metre banner reading “Stop Nuclear Madness – Energy Revolution Now” during the opening ceremony of the World Energy Congress in Rome, Italy, attended by Romano Prodi, Italian Prime Minister.
Greenpeace is critical of the recent energy blueprint for tackling climate change published by the World Energy Council, the organisers of the triennial congress. The blueprint sees greenhouse gas emissions peaking by as late as 2030 before decreasing. It also proposes an expansion in nuclear power.
Greenpeace warns that expanding nuclear power capacity undermines solutions to climate change by diverting financial resources away from urgently needed investments in clean, renewable energy and improvements in energy efficiency. The environmental organisation wants a global phase out of nuclear power on grounds of cost, the lengthy construction periods and hazards it creates, ranging from the unsolved problem of nuclear waste through to the threat to international security.
“We have less than a decade to halt and reverse the trend of growing emissions of greenhouse gases if we are to head-off the worst impacts of climate change,” said Jan Beranek, nuclear campaigner at Greenpeace International, referring to recent scientific warnings on global warming.
The costs of doubling the number of nuclear reactors around the world could exceed one thousand billion dollars, says Greenpeace. Yet such a move would fail to achieve any significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Instead, investments need to go into increasing renewable energy capacity and energy efficiency.
“It is time for a true energy revolution not the failed ‘Alice in Wonderland‘ nuclear dream of ‘power too cheap to meter‘,“ said Beranek.
Greenpeace’s own ‘Energy Revolution‘ scenario is a blueprint for preventing climate change from reaching catastrophic proportions. Produced in conjunction with the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) and the European Renewable Energy Council, the scenario shows that reliance on existing energy technologies can halve global greenhouse emissions while simultaneously phasing out nuclear energy. This would compromise neither sustained economic growth nor fair access to energy for people in developing countries.
Despite abandoning nuclear power following a national referendum 20 years ago, Italy, via the utility ENEL, is engaged in completing the Mochovce nuclear reactor, in Slovakia, which was designed in the 1970s and lacks crucial safety systems introduced elsewhere following the Chernobyl disaster of 1986. The Italian Government is the leading shareholder in ENEL.
“Instead of investing in old risky Soviet-era reactors in Slovakia, the Italian utility ENEL should be turning its attention to sustainable and safe energy,“ said Francesco Tedesco, energy campaigner of Greenpeace Italy.
“The Italian government has been talking a lot. But as the leading shareholder in ENEL it needs to demonstrate practical progress in clean energy,“ added Tedesco.
“Nuclear power concerns, such as Areva, EdF and ENEL who are sponsoring this congress, are desperate to show they are still relevant. They have become a dangerous distraction,“ said Jan Beranek. “Forget talk of a ‘nuclear renaissance‘, if there ever was such a thing as a nuclear era, it has long ago been consigned to the rubbish bin of history,“ he added.
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