Issue No.10 Autumn
(November 2005)


ENS News

ENS President's Contribution

Informing the Public

ENS Events

Etrap 2005

ENC 2005

PIME 2006

Topnux 2006

RRFM 2006

Topseal 2006

Topfuel 2006

Member Societies & Corporate Members

Hurricanes Give a Boost to Hydrogen Economy

Finland's Olkiluoto 3

YGN Report

10th Anniversary of German YG

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European Energy Policy

ENS World News

Nuclear frontline of climate change battle

Winning the battle

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Editorial staff

ETRAP 2005

ETRAP 2005
23-25 November 2005 in Brussels


RRFM 2006RRFM 2006

RRFM 2006
30 April - 3 May 2006 in Sofia, Bulgaria
















































Nuclear in frontline of climate change battle: 25 MEPs lend their support

On 19 October 2005, a seminar entitled Nuclear Energy: Meeting the challenge of climate change, took place at the European Parliament. Over 150 people, including parliamentarians, officials from the European Commission and the Council, industry representatives, NGOs and academics attended. It was organized by FORATOM and chaired by Finnish MEP, Eija-Riitta Korhola (EPP-ED), who is a member of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety. The seminar focused on global and EU climate change policies and on nuclear energy’s role in a post-2012 international climate change framework. During the seminar, a cross-party group of twenty-five MEPs signed a joint Declaration on climate change and nuclear energy. This initiative adds political weight to the shared conviction among an increasing number of MEPs, as well as national politicians, scientists and NGOs, that nuclear energy can help the EU to meet its Kyoto Protocol CO2-reduction commitments and mitigate the effects of climate change.

Here is a blow-by-blow account of what was discussed at the seminar.

In his opening address, FORATOM President, Eduardo Gonzales Gomez, stated that climate change is “a massive challenge to face….and the number of MEPs, European Commission’s officials, industry representatives, journalists and environmentalists here today reflects how seriously that challenge is viewed.” Public opinion is also increasingly aware of this challenge and of the contribution that nuclear energy can make to the fight against climate change. As FLASH reported last month, the recent Eurobarometer survey on waste showed that 62% of Europe’s citizens now believe that nuclear energy produces less CO2 than coal and gas.

Eiija-Riita Korhola then described her “journey into reality”. She emphasized that she was not born with “a nuclear flag in my hand”. As a member of the Environment Committee, she initially opposed nuclear power on safety and waste management grounds. However, the debate in Finland about whether to build a fifth nuclear power plant made her realize that climate change poses a much greater threat than nuclear accidents or radioactive waste. She added that Europe’s dependence upon Russian imports of fossil fuels can affect the EU’s human rights policy. According to Mrs. Korhola, “atmosphere is not equipped with ideological filters” and unfounded fears must be challenged in order to develop a sensible viewpoint. Changing views among politicians, scientists and even some environmentalists imply that Mrs. Korhola is not the only one to have made that “journey into reality.”

MEP Terry Wynn, (PSE, UK), Chairman of the MEP Forum for the Future of Nuclear Energy and a long time pro-nuclear campaigner, presented the MEP Declaration on Climate Change and Nuclear Energy, which he had signed along with 24 other MEPs.
He passionately advocates the role of nuclear in fighting climate change: “We can’t have a debate on climate change without discussing nuclear energy, and while I encourage renewable energy sources, let’s get real, none of them will ever run the Brussels metro system.” The central theme of Terry Wynn’s speech was that “the problems and the solutions for nuclear power are neither technical nor environmental, but political ones.” The solutions exist for managing waste effectively and safely, like underground storage and retrievability – the real solution is a matter of political will. The signing of the MEP Declaration is a manifestation of that political will.

The seminar’s morning session was entitled “EU Energy and Climate Change Policies”. The key speakers who introduced the debate were: Dr Joachim Ehrenberg, Policy Officer, DG Enterprise and Industry, European Commission, who presented the EU’s Lisbon Strategy and Climate Change Policy and spoke about the Emission Trading Scheme that aims to promote competitiveness and reduce greenhouse gas emissions; Eiija-Riita Korhola, urged that what is needed to fight climate change effectively is a completely new way of thinking which instead of being based upon fossil fuels is based upon energy efficiency and savings, renewables and non/low CO2-emitting sources of energy. She concluded by saying: “…climate change will not be met by nuclear alone, but in the meantime nuclear energy should be used to its fullest potential.”

Juha Poikola, Vice-President, Communications, Bioenergy Strategies, Pohjolan Voima Oy, then presented the Finnish energy model. He explained that Finland has 10 years of experience in liberalising the energy market and can exploit efficiently the electricity capacity of Nordic countries. Finland’s decision to build a fifth nuclear power plant was made to encourage competitive electricity prices, to help reduce CO2 emissions and to promote the increased use of biomass.

The next speaker was Chris Horner, Director of External Relations, European Enterprise Institute. He questioned the efficiency of the Kyoto protocol and the emission trading scheme (ETS). He stated that: “Kyoto strangely prohibits its adherents from using nuclear power to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.” Instead of the emissions trading scheme, Chris Horner advocated the use of taxation as a means of “encouraging” industries and households to reduce their emissions.

Finally, Jean-Yves Caneill, Environment and Sustainable Development, EDF Group, stated that there is no simple energy solution in the fight against climate change, since politicians must take into account what primary energy sources are domestically available. However, given that it is possible to produce electricity without emitting greenhouse gases, non-emitting sources should be prioritised such as nuclear and renewables. Jean-Yves Caneill concluded by saying that it is also necessary to control energy demand.

During the lively debate that followed, Mark Johnston of Greenpeace gave an NGO perspective. He asked why the speakers appeared against the ETS when, in his view the nuclear industry should be for it. He also questioned the decision of the US to invest in nuclear new-build and the overall competitiveness of nuclear power. Mrs. Korhola replied that she merely considered that the ETS has not achieved good results so far. Eduardo Gonzales Gomez, FORATOM President, said that the US decision to invest in nuclear power plants was made in order to fight climate change.

In the afternoon, delegates switched their attention to “Nuclear energy’s role in a post-2012 International Climate Change Framework”. Jean-Eudes Moncomble, Secretary General, French Member Committee/ World Energy Council (WEC), presented the results of the WEC study on energy and climate change. WEC is keen to find solutions to fight climate change while ensuring better access to energy supply for all. It strongly advocates improving energy efficiency, using all the non-emitting technologies - including nuclear power and renewables - and increasing investments in R&D.

Mark Johnston then threw down the gauntlet by presenting Greenpeace’s position on nuclear power, which is based upon the view that it should be phased-out, “…not only because of the risk of accidents, the threat of proliferation and the waste issue, but also because it is “not competitive on account of the liabilities issue.” He dismissed the Finnish model, saying that the company was granted an unrealistically preferential interest rate to build the fifth plant. Finally, he presented an alternative scenario for filling the gap left by the phase-out of nuclear power called Energy Revolution: a sustainable pathway to a clean energy future for Europe, which has been developed by Greenpeace Europe and the Institute of Technical Thermodynamics at the German Aerospace Center (DLR).

Prof. Risto Tarjanne, Professor of Energy Economics, Lappeenranta University of Technology, presented the project of Olkoluoto 3 and reassured Mark Johnston on the competitiveness of Finland’s power sector.

Dr. Alejo Vidal-Quadras Roca, MEP (EPP-ED, Spain), First Vice-President of the European Parliament, responded by saying that: “Nuclear energy makes a valuable contribution towards achieving Europe's economic, energy supply and environmental objectives. The nuclear energy option should be kept open and nuclear expertise retained”.

Alain Bucaille, Special Adviser to the Chairman of AREVA, said that while the world is facing the challenge of climate change, energy demand is bound to increase: “We must, therefore, use the technologies that are available now to face up to climate change, namely nuclear power and renewable energy, and we must also improve energy efficiency.”

Dr. Harmut Pamme, Vice-President, Nuclear Power Plants, RWE Power AG, pointed out that nuclear power is the only energy that meets the three “crucial criteria”: “….it’s CO2-free, it’s competitive and it ensures security of supply.”

During the debate, Derek Taylor, Advisor, European Commission (DG TREN), refuted Johnston’s argument about the interest rate, declaring that according to the European Commission, Olkiluoto 3 was not granted any preferential interest rate.

In her closing remarks, Eiija-Riita Korhola reasserted that: “No single source should be ruled out or prioritized for ideological or political reasons. However, we strongly believe that the increased use of nuclear energy, as the largest single contributor to the fight against climate change, is essential.”

The seminar was followed by a press conference on the MEP Declaration. 13 journalists and the Europe by Satellite TV channel covered the press conference. Subsequent press coverage has been extensive. Here is the text of the MEP Declaration, which has now been signed by 27 MEPs.

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