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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Greens in "panic" over growing split on nuclear power

[Looks like there is more discussion going on in the environmental community on the nuclear issue.]



Green Party leaders in the UK have attempted to reign in a growing split within the party over the role of nuclear power in tackling climate change.

This week saw a prospective Parliamentary candidate for the Party revealing that he was now "reluctantly" supporting new nuclear power stations because of growing concerns about climate change.

Chris Goodall, now facing calls to be deselected as Green candidate for the Oxford West and Abingdon constituency, wrote a column in the Independent on Monday where he also raised his concerns with the growing economic incentive to use coal power.

In response, the leader of the Green Party in the UK, Caroline Lucas, said: "There is no need for anyone to panic themselves into thinking nuclear power is a possible solution to climate change."

Ms Lucas, MEP for South East England, said: "Of course the government and the nuclear lobbyists will try to use fear of climate change to divide the Green movement and argue for nuclear power. But we must hold our nerve."

Speaking to New Energy Focus today, sources working in Brussels suggested the growing split over the nuclear question was not confined to Britain, but was becoming a major conflict area.

"The stance against nuclear had always been the one issue that they all agreed on," said one source close to the Greens in the EU. "But now, some of them are questioning that, with the growing concern about climate change."

Greens around the world are now asking whether the global movement is right to take a "rigid" stance against nuclear power. The movement has its roots among anti-nuclear protest groups in the 1970s.

Mr Goodall has written books including 10 Technologies to Save the Planet, a tome that included carbon capture and CHP as two of the 10 listed technologies, but did not include nuclear power.

But expanding on his views as stated in the Independent this week, Mr Goodall said that "in the medium term, we need nuclear as fast as possible because otherwise we get more coal".

He suggested the current low price of carbon and fuels meant coal power was being increasingly prioritised by energy generators, with plants that were due to closed perhaps staying open with new pollution control equipment fitted to meet Europe's new Large Combustion Plants Directive.

"We've got into this mess simply because we didn't invest heavily enough in onshore wind, tidal or wave power in the last two decades," Mr Goodall said.

While accepting the challenges associated with nuclear power, even in the long-term, Mr Goodall suggested it might be necessary to provide base load capacity in the energy network, suggesting that biomass power stations would require too much land area for crop cultivation.

We are making so little progress with other technologies that I reluctantly conclude that we also need to sponsor nuclear power.
Chris Goodall, Green Party candidate"I do think that the public debate needs to move beyond the ritualised and stale statements of both the pro- and anti-nuclear groups," he concluded. "We are making so little progress with other technologies that I reluctantly conclude that we also need to sponsor nuclear power in the UK."

Dr Lucas agreed with the urgency needed to "drastically" reduce emissions in the UK, but said it would take "many years" to build new nuclear power plants, in which time she said renewable energy and efficiency programmes could be set in place.

She said: "We can organise a massive programme of energy-saving measures for every home and business in the UK starting right now. We can get renewable energy sources into place rapidly if we unclog the planning system and set up the kind of incentives used so successfully in Germany and Spain."

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