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HOME  > Past issues  > 2008 February 20 - 26  > Government global warming policy relying on nuclear energy poses danger
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2008 February 20 - 26 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Government global warming policy relying on nuclear energy poses danger

February 25, 2008
Akahata editorial (excerpts)

The Japanese government and energy industry are trying to use nuclear energy as a “trump card” to fight global warming, advertizing it as “clean energy” that does not cause CO2 emissions.

The government Atomic Energy Commission in its draft report released in February stressed that increased use of nuclear energy is essential to deal with global warming and called for an international framework applied to following the Kyoto Protocol’s first commitment period (2008-12) to attach importance to the use of nuclear energy.

This argument, however, is very dangerous since it disregards accidents involving nuclear power stations and the environmental destruction caused by them.

It is not only irresponsible but also internationally unacceptable to promote the use of nuclear energy in dealing with global warming. The IPCC fourth assessment report gave a warning by pointing out that nuclear power generation accompanies problems of safety, nuclear weapons proliferation, and nuclear waste.

The 1986 Chernobyl accident in the former Soviet Union caused serious radioactive pollution over a wide area across borders. There is no guarantee that no such an accident will occur again. There is also no method of nuclear waste disposal proven to be safe despite the fact that such waste will remain on earth for tens of thousands years.

Japanese nuclear power stations, in particular, have become obsolete, having passed more than 22 years of operation on average. The strong earthquake that hit Niigata Prefecture last July exposed the inadequacies of the earthquake resistance standards of Japan’s nuclear power stations. Raising plant utilization as required by the government measure to deal with global warming will increase the likelihood of serious accidents.

Notwithstanding these problems, the Japanese government regards nuclear energy as a “trump card” because Japan’s nuclear industry is sticking to its policy of increasing reliance on nuclear power generation and even aims at exporting nuclear power plants to other Asian countries.

It is outrageous for the government to disregard the dangers of nuclear power plants and spread such danger to the world in order to serve the nuclear industry.

The Atomic Energy Commission argues that the export of nuclear power stations should be incorporated into the mechanism in which when a country cooperates with other countries to reduce their CO2 emissions a certain amount of the reduced emissions can be counted as its own. However, the international community already decided to exclude nuclear power stations from such a mechanism.

Furthermore, a policy of relying on nuclear energy will hold back essential measures to fight global warming. The energy industry accounts for 30 percent of Japan’s total CO2 emissions. To increase the reliance on nuclear energy under the pretext of reducing the power industry’s CO2 emissions will obviously hinder the efforts to fight global warming, including the use of renewable energies.

It is time for the government to conclude agreements with corporations on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, introduce an environment tax, and fully promote the use of renewable energies.

Germany has reduced its greenhouse gas emissions by nearly 20 percent compared to its level in 1990. The country achieved this while reducing dependence on nuclear energy and raising the rate of renewable energies in the total generated electric energy from four percent to 12 percent.

Japan must learn from these examples.
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