Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search


NZ Position Could Indirectly Help Nuclear Industry

Is New Zealand Inadvertently Throwing The Nuclear Industry A Lifeline Internationally?

In the midst of global concern over climate change there is one group that is rubbing its hands together with glee - the nuclear power industry. Unlike coal and gas-fired power stations, nuclear plants don’t emit carbon dioxide, leading the nuclear industry to claim it is the solution to global warming. After decades of accidents, economic failure and public opposition, the industry is hoping this simplistic argument will resurrect their fortunes. In Lyon this week, governments officials are gathered for continued negotiations on the Kyoto Protocol on climate change. Nuclear power will be one of the most contentious issues discussed. Yet surprisingly, New Zealand, who usually leads the charge against the nuclear industry in international fora, is currently taking a position that will directly benefit the nuclear industry.

At the centre of this debate is a part of the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change called the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). Under the CDM, industrialised countries can invest in projects in developing countries which reduce greenhouse gas emissions, then claim credit for the reductions when meeting their own targets. The CDM is also meant to assist developing countries achieve sustainable development.

Rules for the CDM will be decided this November at the next meeting of the Climate Change Convention. Among the most contentious issues is the question of whether nuclear power projects should be eligible. The CDM’s mandate of promoting sustainable development should rule out nuclear power immediately. For while it is true that reactors don’t emit carbon dioxide, they do create radioactive waste, are vulnerable to catastrophic accidents, and give rise to hazardous shipments of nuclear materials, such as those that are traversing the Tasman Sea with increasing regularity. Advocating nuclear power to address climate change is the equivalent of advocating smoking to reduce weight: you may lose a few pounds, but the side- effects are life-threatening.

For the nuclear industry, the CDM could be a lifeline. In the industrialised west, no country is building nuclear reactors or planning to, making the developing world the only potential new market. But up to now most developing countries have shunned nuclear power, due mainly to its high costs. This is where the CDM comes in: carbon credits could reduce the price tag on a new reactor and make it a more attractive proposition. An International Atomic Energy Agency spokesperson recently admitted that because of the high cost of nuclear power, developing countries would not consider it in the absence of CDM credits. Inclusion in the CDM would also risk giving the appearance that the signatories to the Kyoto Protocol have endorsed the claim by the nuclear industry to be a solution to climate change, and give it renewed legitimacy.

The boost provided by the CDM could be immediate. China, for example, is currently finalising its 10th five-year plan, which may include orders for up to 6 new nuclear reactors. According to a report in the industry journal Nucleonics Week China is waiting to see if it will get CDM credits for new nuclear plant before it finalises a decision on how many to build. Other countries are also looking to the CDM to subsidise their nuclear plans. India, Vietnam and South Korea have all expressed interest in using CDM credits to fund new construction. The wrong decision in November could very quickly translate into concrete being poured for new reactors.

So where do different countries stand on this issue? Not surprisingly, the Pacific nations are calling for a complete exclusion of nuclear power, as are Indonesia and the Philippines. The EU wants the CDM structured in such a way that nuclear power is excluded de facto, a face saving formula designed to appease its nuclear members - the UK and France. And just this week in Lyon at the latest round of climate negotiations, a submission from Honduras on behalf of Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatamala, Mexico, Nicaragua, Paraguay and Uruguay stated that, according to the environmental integrity principles that guide these countries, they are collectively opposed to the inclusion of nuclear power in the CDM.

And New Zealand? The New Zealand Government claims that it is against nuclear power in developing countries, as you would expect. But that does not mean it is working to ensure the CDM won’t support nuclear power. A number of countries are trying to have the CDM structured in such a way that anything that is not specifically excluded is eligible by default. That is, unless the Parties agree to rule out a technology like nuclear power, it can claim CDM credits. The nuclear industry is pushing hard for this outcome. At the last meeting of the Climate Convention last November the nuclear industry advised its Government supporters not to push for the inclusion of nuclear power, fearing a backlash so soon after the fatal Tokaimura accident. Instead, pro-nuclear countries like Japan and Canada worked for a CDM that ruled out nothing - including nuclear power.

New Zealand’s position on the CDM seems to support such rules. When asked by Jeannette Fitzsimons if the Government was “actively” opposing nuclear power in the CDM, the reply was “NZ may agree not to buy credits itself from these sources. On the question of whether we oppose others doing it that is something we are considering options on that point”. That is, NZ may allow the CDM to be structured in such a way that India and China can use it to subsidise the cost of building new reactors!

This would indeed be an irony, particularly for a Labour Government. New Zealand has long sought to reduce the dangers posed by the nuclear industry, be it reducing superpowers’ arsenals, or opposing nuclear shipments through the Pacific. Yet now, it looks set to support an outcome which would throw the nuclear industry a lifeline - a new subsidy for reactor construction in the developing world, and renewed political legitimacy.

There is simply no way the Government can justify any position other than one which explicitly and clearly rules out nuclear power. At the climate negotiations currently being held in Lyon, and this November at The Hague, NZ must support the proposal put up by the Association of Small Island States (AOSIS) that the CDM “must not support nuclear power”. In addition, it must support efforts to restrict the CDM to renewable energy technologies through the adoption of an exclusive positive list. This is the only way to ensure that the CDM effectively addresses both climate change and sustainable development.

From Tricia Allen, Campaign Director, Greenpeace in NZ

It's time to Turn Down the Heat: Tell world leaders to use November's climate summit to reduce the pollution that causes global warming. http://www.climatevoice.org/
PLEASE NOTE NEW EMAIL ADDRESS : tricia.allen@nz.greenpeace.org ========================================= Tricia Allen Campaign and Communications Director Greenpeace New Zealand tricia.allen@nz.greenpeace.org phone ++ 64 9 630 6317 / +64 25 790817 fax ++ 64 9 630 7121 http://www.greenpeace.org.nz =========================================

© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell: On National’s Rampant Pandering To The Farming Vote

What on earth has happened to the political parties n the centre-right? Once upon a time in the US, the party of Lincoln was a respectable political party before it devolved into the cult of Trump. Here at home, the National Parry used to be able to manage and administer the economic orthodoxy in a reasonably competent fashion. Now it can barely do simple addition and subtraction. Something must have gotten into the water, and not simply out on the farm... More>>


Winston Peters Speech: The Gathering Storm Clouds: Ihumatao

Frequently around New Zealand you hear people say that politicians are all the same. It’s a convenient way to dismiss any careful investigation of the truth of that statement. New Zealand First since its inception has been committed to ‘one law ... More>>


National Agriculture Policy: Will Restore Farmer Confidence And Pride

A National Government will reduce regulatory burden and give farmers confidence for the future. Leader of the National Party Judith Collins and Agriculture spokesperson David Bennett announced National’s Agriculture policy in Gisborne today. “Agriculture ... More>>


Shaw: Wealth Tax Not A Bottom Line For Green Party But They Will Push For It

Green Party co-leader James Shaw says one of his senior MPs misspoke under pressure when she said a wealth tax was one of the party's bottom lines. More>>


Government: More Border Exceptions For Critical Roles

The Government has established class exceptions for border entry for a limited number of veterinarians, deep sea fishing crew, as well as agricultural and horticultural machinery operators. “Tight border restrictions remain the backbone of the Government’s ... More>>


Gordon Campbell: On Last Night’s Leaders Debate

Do political debates change voter intentions, and cause voters to switch sides? According to a 2019 Harvard Business School study conducted across 61 elections in nine countries involving 172,000 respondents, the answer would seem to be a resounding ... More>>


Dunne Speaks: The Election Campaign Just Grinds Slowly On And On

With just over three weeks until the General Election, the release of the first major pre-election opinion poll this week confirmed what was already being reported about this year’s campaign. Although the gap between Labour and National has narrowed ... More>>

Electoral Commission: Candidate And Party Lists Released

17 registered political parties and 677 candidates will be contesting the 2020 General Election Nominations have now closed and the Electoral Commission has released the electorate and party list candidates for 2020 online at vote.nz . Advance voting ... More>>

National: Plan To Restore NZ’s Prosperity

National’s Economic and Fiscal Plan carefully balances the need to invest in infrastructure and core public services while also reducing tax pressure on Kiwi families and businesses. National Leader Judith Collins and Finance spokesperson Paul Goldsmith unveiled National’s ... More>>


NZ First: Party List

New Zealand First has a proven twenty-seven-year history of bringing balance and common sense to our government. Amid the continued setbacks of COVID-19 restrictions, New Zealand First has once again sustained its profile by selecting a strong team ... More>>





InfoPages News Channels