Controversial environmental charity Greenpeace has always taken a firm stance against nuclear energy due to environmental and military risks, but now a group of young activists are urging them to change their opinion for these reasons.
Young Climate Activists
A group of young climate activists from five EU countries initiated the “Dear Greenpeace” campaign in Europe.
Their goal? to persuade the environmental organization Greenpeace to reevaluate its stance on nuclear energy in the fight against climate change.
Desperation defines the message these young activists are sending to Greenpeace. Ia Aanstoot, an 18-year-old Swedish climate activist, emphasized their desperation to enlist Greenpeace to combat fossil fuels rather than oppose nuclear power.
Greenpeace and other critics of nuclear energy maintain that nuclear power remains too risky, polluting, and cost-prohibitive to be a viable solution to the climate crisis.
The Belgium-based environmental non-profit Replanet financially supports the “Dear Greenpeace” campaign. This organization prides itself on refusing financing from political parties or industries.
Greenpeace and several other non-profit organizations have taken legal action against the EU Commission, challenging the inclusion of nuclear energy in the sustainable finance classification. They label it as “greenwashing.”
Ia Aanstoot, who actively participated in climate activist Greta Thunberg’s school strikes, now seeks to become an “interested party” in Greenpeace’s lawsuit, “The EU’s decisions on what is green should be based on science and being carbon neutral, and it should not be technology-biased,” she said.
Greenpeace argues that investment should be directed toward safer and more affordable renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power.
“Cut Carbon Emissions”
Ariadna Rodrigo, Greenpeace’s EU sustainable finance campaigner, emphasized the top priority of reducing carbon emissions rapidly and cost-effectively, “The top priority is to cut carbon emissions as fast and, ideally, as cheaply as possible, and nuclear fails on both scores.”
Daniel Kammen, a professor of energy at the University of California, Berkeley, believes this dispute reflects a generational divide. Young activists see nuclear disasters like Fukushima and Chernobyl as distant memories, while older generations maintain concerns about potential catastrophes.
Kammen acknowledged that the risk of nuclear disasters is real, even if small.
He believes that the more nuclear reactors are built, the greater the likelihood of accidents occurring, “It’s reasonable to be optimistic, but the deeper you look, the more sceptical one should be of every nuclear option.”
Risks of Nuclear Options
M.V. Ramana, a professor at the University of British Columbia, dismissed nuclear energy as an undesirable and impractical solution to climate change, “All nuclear plants necessarily produce radioactive waste,” he said.
“We have, so far, not found any demonstrated, proven way of dealing with [this] waste safely anywhere in the world.” He revealed.
For Aanstoot, the climate crisis poses a greater risk than managing nuclear waste. She prefers burdening future generations with well-regulated nuclear waste rather than dealing with catastrophic climate consequences.
According to Kammen, wind and solar energy become cheaper and more efficient as nuclear power becomes more expensive.
Contrary to claims that renewable energy sources like solar and wind are insufficient to meet demand, Kammen believes such assertions are “nuclear propaganda.” He advocates for reliable, scalable, and cost-effective renewable energy solutions.
Kammen identified two potential nuclear power solutions: modular nuclear reactors and nuclear fusion. Modular reactors are smaller and cheaper but remain a subject of debate, whereas nuclear fusion offers promise but requires extensive research and development.
Nuclear fusion, which holds the potential for safe, clean energy, remains a distant prospect. Experts estimate decades before it becomes practical.
While nuclear fusion may hold promise for the future, the urgency of addressing climate change requires immediate solutions.
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