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France and Germany – opposite attitudes to nuclear power

Is nuclear energy green? France and Germany lead opposing camps.

The French government wants to build reactors. The German government wants to shut them down. WP 19 Dec 21,

”………………….. France is leading a group of mostly central and eastern European countries that are pushing the European Union to add modern nuclear energy to a list of “environmentally sustainable economic activities.”

…………. The president of the surrounding Alsace region, Frédéric Bierry, has urged Macron to consider Fessenheim as a possible future site, calling the old plant’s closure a “financial,” “social” and “economic” scandal in the face of a warming climate.

But one of the biggest obstacles — for Fessenheim and for Macron’s broader plans — lies about half a mile to the east of the town’s old nuclear plant. That’s where France ends and Germany begins.

The new German economy and climate minister, Green party member Robert Habeck, was among the politicians who signed a statement celebrating the closure of the Fessenheim plant. The German government has argued that nuclear plants are too risky, and too slow and costly to build, to be a solution to the climate crisis. Germany’s outlook is influenced by nuclear accidents, such as the 2011 Fukushima meltdown in Japan. And Berlin points to reports like one this past week, of cracks in the pipes at a French nuclear reactor, as evidence that plant safety remains a problem.

Germany is among a group of skeptics, including Denmark and Austria, that wants Europe to shut down its remaining nuclear plants and that fiercely oppose a climate-friendly designation for nuclear power, which would signal to green investors that nuclear energy is worthy of financing.

The controversy may come to a head within days, with the European Commission expected to make a decision just before its Christmas break.

………………………………… Environmental activists in Germany acknowledge that continued reliance on coal is a problem even in the medium term. But they are optimistic about how quickly the country can ramp up alternative energy.

Germany’s Green party, in its position as part of the new ruling coalition, has vowed to increase spending significantly on renewables and to limit energy price spikes for consumers. It wants renewables to account for 80 percent of electricity by 2030, up from the present target of about 50 percent.

For German politicians and activists, the idea of nuclear power as green or sustainable is anathema. They talk about the potential for accidents with catastrophic environmental consequences. They note the problems associated with the long-term storage of deadly radioactive waste. They say they don’t want to draw investment away from wind and solar.

German anti-nuclear and environmental activist Stefan Auchter said his country’s path will be validated when the next Chernobyl or Fukushima comes. He compared the use of nuclear energy to playing Russian roulette……………………….  https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2021/12/18/nuclear-energy-climate-france-germany/

December 21, 2021 - Posted by | climate change, EUROPE, politics international

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