Toyako, July 8, 2008
Countries with nuclear industries are promoting nuclear exports in the name of a response to global warming. They are providing support for and putting in place systems to facilitate nuclear exports. In these countries construction of new nuclear power plants is in decline, due to such factors as public opposition and cost. Despite these circumstances, several G8 countries, including Japan, are promoting nuclear power. Stated another way, the reason why these countries want to export nuclear plants is because it is difficult for them to build new plants in their own countries.
On July 8, heads of the G8 governments released a Summit Document entitled “Environment and Climate Change”. The document says, “We witness that a growing number of countries have expressed their interests in nuclear power programs as a means to addressing climate change and energy security concerns. These countries regard nuclear power as an essential instrument in reducing dependence on fossil fuels and hence greenhouse gas emissions.” The document continues, “safeguards (nuclear nonproliferation), nuclear safety and nuclear security (3S) are fundamental principles for the peaceful use of nuclear energy” and states that “an international initiative proposed by Japan on 3S-based nuclear energy infrastructure will be launched.”
However, after over fifty years of using nuclear power (euphemistically referred to as “peaceful use” or “civilian use”), the governments and nuclear industries of those countries with nuclear power plants have so far failed to fulfill these 3S principles.
Nuclear proliferation continues to pose a threat to international security. In regard to safety, cases such as the Chernobyl accident and the major earthquake that struck the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant one year ago (it has been closed ever since) have only increased concerns about the dangerous nature of nuclear power. As for security, if that term refers to the risks of nuclear terror and theft of nuclear materials, international anxiety levels keep on rising.
A Summit Document proposed by Japan and released on July 8 entitled “International Initiative on 3S-based Nuclear Energy Infrastructure” states, “international cooperation in this field can prove beneficial, and … the G8 members should take an active role in promoting such international cooperation.” The document specifies the details of the actions required in future. The fact that the document emphasizes the need for the establishment of 3S and the need for 3S-based infrastructure, in order to enable an expansion of nuclear power, just goes to show that these conditions are not yet in place internationally, and particularly not in developing countries.
In order to prevent dangerous climate change, it is necessary for global CO2 emissions to peak and begin falling within the next 10 years. We have so little time to turn the situation around, but it usually takes more than 10 years from planning to commencement of operation of nuclear power plants. For example, construction of the Olkiluoto-3 plant in Finland began in 2005, but it is already 50% (2 billion Euros) above budget and two and a half years behind schedule. According to an energy scenario recently produced by the International Energy Agency, even if 32 gigawatts (32x1000MW plants, or 2.6 plants a month) of nuclear power were added globally each year to 2050, Greenhouse Gas emissions from the energy sector would only be reduced by 6%, or less than 4% of global GHG emissions.
Besides being of no use in addressing climate change, nuclear energy actually undermines the development and introduction of effective measures to avert global warming: increase of energy efficiency and promotion of renewables. Furthermore, centralized electric power systems based on nuclear energy would obstruct the introduction of small-scale and decentralized energy system. Furthermore, an expansion of nuclear power will exacerbate the ever-increasing problem of radioactive waste management, as well as increase the risk of major accidents.
The world must construct a response to the problems of climate change and energy-security which is not dependent on nuclear power. We demand that the G8 take a leading role in this.
Akira Kawasaki (Peace Boat) 090-8310-5370
Manami Suzuki (Greenpeace Japan, Climate and Energy Campaigner) 080-5416-6506