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Tuesday, July 8, 2008

US, Germany differ on nuclear energy on sidelines of G-8 summit

Differences over nuclear power surfaced on the sidelines of the Group of Eight summit Monday, with Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, which is phasing out its nuclear plants, arguing that its use is not the only way to combat climate change.

Merkel's comments came after a senior U.S. official argued that nuclear power should be used to stem emissions.

"A country that has the capability to responsibly use nuclear energy in my view has a responsibility to do so, if we want to get serious about not just cutting greenhouse gas emissions, but also improving public health through reduced air pollution," said James Connaughton, chairman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

Asked if that was a dig at Germany, since Merkel is sticking to her predecessor's plan to phase out Germany's 17 nuclear power plants in the coming years, Connaughton did not respond directly.

Merkel countered: "I don't think that climate protection is decided by the question of nuclear energy alone."

Taking steps to tackle global warming is high on the agenda for the G-8 meeting, which brings together leaders from the U.S., Germany, Japan, France, Italy, Canada, Russia and Britain.

Germany's governing coalition is deeply divided over nuclear energy.

The conservative Merkel's "grand coalition" government has stuck with its center-left predecessor's decision to phase out Germany's nuclear power plants — but the plan has caused repeated political friction, particularly with an election looming next year.

Merkel made clear that she personally opposes switching off nuclear power plants early. However, she said that "we must above all go down the new paths," such as using more renewable energy and improving energy efficiency, in combating climate change.

"The decision that many countries count on nuclear power is OK," Merkel said. "But to say that the future for climate change and careful use of energy can be solved by that alone — I don't see it that way."

Merkel's center-left coalition partners, the Social Democrats, have fiercely defended the shutdown plan agreed by the previous government, which they led in a coalition with the Greens.

In Berlin on Monday, Social Democratic general secretary Hubertus Heil said that "there is no such thing as safe nuclear energy."

(Source: International Herald Tribune)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Social Democrats the world over are falling from power if they go with radical anti-development and anti-technology positions.

A funny thing is lately I've seen many leftists try and define being left wing as against development. But if you look at leftism in its heyday like during the Roosevelt era in America, the left was incredibly pro-development. Doing immense energy and water projects for example, and wanting to provide cheap electricity to 'the masses'. Along with good jobs/industry.