Greenpeace urges nuclear energy rethink

Johannesburg – Environmental organisation Greenpeace has urged the Minister of Energy to reconsider the role of nuclear energy in South Africa and put a moratorium on any new nuclear reactors at least until the safety implications of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan have been fully evaluated.

In its new report “The True Cost of Nuclear Power in South Africa”, presented to the Department of Energy on Thursday, it discusses social and economic impacts of the country’s nuclear program in the past, and examines the benefits of a nuclear-free future.

“Rather than investing in dangerous energy technologies, our country should opt for clean energy options,” the organisation said.

“Today’s report outlines South Africa’s costly nuclear history, its failure to learn from past mistakes, and how the country could leave dirty and dangerous energy behind by investing in renewables.

“To achieve a nuclear-free South Africa, whilst still reducing the country’s dependency on coal, the electricity sector needs to be the pioneer of renewable energy utilisation. According to our Advanced Energy [R]evolution, 49% of electricity can be produced from renewable sources by 2030, increasing to 94% by 2050.”

Greenpeace added that nuclear energy was a dangerous distraction from the clean energy development needed to prevent catastrophic climate change.

“Nuclear power simply delivers too little, too late, and at too high a price for the environment,” said Kumi Naidoo, Executive Director of Greenpeace International.

As host of the international climate negotiations COP17 in Durban this year, South Africa should play a leading role both in terms of its domestic energy choices, and by debunking false energy solutions to catastrophic climate change, such as nuclear, Naidoo added.

Greenpeace Africa was calling for decisive action and the political leadership required to secure the brighter future South Africans deserved.

According to Greenpeace Africa campaigner Ferrial Adam, an “Energy [R]evolution” driven by the creation of green jobs was needed.

“With the political will and South Africa’s abundance of renewable energy resources, the country could and should become a renewable energy leader in Africa,” Adam added.

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