European anti-nuclear ministers want alternatives to nuclear power

Monday, October 1, 2007

Vienna - High-ranking European government officials, representing anti-nuclear states Austria, Germany, Ireland, Norway, Italy, Luxembourg, and Latvia, called Monday for alternatives to a renaissance of nuclear energy.

The group met in Vienna on Sunday and Monday to forge a joint declaration against nuclear energy. At a press conference, the participating politicians called for more investment into energy efficiency measures and renewable energies.

'We are no anti-nuclear coalition, but we want to show alternatives,' said Austrian Environment Minister Josef Proell. The declaration, focusing on the safety and security risks surrounding nuclear energy said this energy form was was no proper means to fight climate change.

Matthias Machnig, German Deputy Minister for Environment, sharply criticized the alleged positive role of nuclear energy in reducing global greenhouse gases as a 'myth'. The world's combined power plants would only contribute with 8 per cent to carbon dioxide reduction, Machnig said.

The discussion on nuclear energy only slowed down investment into energy efficiency and alternative energy forms, Machnig said. Ireland's and Norway's environment ministers, John Gormley and Helen Bjornoy, stressed the importance of this new atom-sceptic network.

Italy's Environment Minister Alfonso Pecoraro Scanio warned of the long term effects - his country sill had to deal with nuclear waste, 20 years after quitting nuclear energy.

The five founding members Germany, Austria, Ireland, Norway and Iceland - the latter did not take part in the latest meeting - were only recently joined by Italy, Luxembourg and Latvia, Proell said.

Latvia was the only country in the group that is actively moving ahead with expanding nuclear energy capabilities, while all other seven members either have no nuclear energy or are planning a phase- out, like Germany.

The cooperation was no contradiction Latvia's deputy environment secretary Martins Jirgens said, as he hoped the planned Latvian involvement in the construction of the Lithuanian nuclear reactor Ignalina would not go ahead.

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