Nuclear power goes solar

Feature story - July 25, 2009
Last night Greenpeace was invited by the Austrian authorities to hang a banner from a nuclear power station, unlikely but true. The Zwentendorf nuclear plant was never operated and has been mothballed since the 70's. Today it is to open as a solar power station: our banner simply stated: “Energy Revolution – Climate Solution.”

A nuclear power station in Austria now uses clean, safe nuclear energy -- the sun!

The plant's operation was fiercely contested and in 1978 a national referendum sealed its fate. Nuclear fuel rods were never inserted into the reactor and the concrete plant on the edge of the Danube River in western Austria never produced electricity. It has stood dormant as a testament to Austrian concerns over nuclear energy. Now, a 1.2 million Euro project has turned the nuclear power plant into the largest solar power station in Austria.

A testament to the fact that the only safe nuclear power comes from the sun.

Save the World Awards

At a ceremony hosted by the State of Lower Austria, the head of our climate campaign, Thomas Henningsen, received an award presented by American actress Andie MacDowell, for our work to raise alarm over climate change and the promotion of climate solutions. The 'Save the World Awards' are the first international awards that honour exceptional individuals and organisations working toward a sustainable future.

"Among all threats that human societies and cultures are facing, we believe that climate change is by far the most serious", said Thomas. "If we do not act right now, we will see billions of people fighting for drinking water and new land to settle. This alone will put the whole world into chaos. But we will also lose half of our species and almost all of our rainforests and coral reefs."

Funding an Energy [R]evolution

We are convinced that we can avert climate chaos and an energy revolution is essential if we are to radically reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. When the banks were saved during the crisis, billions of Euros were made available overnight and laws were passed by decision making bodies at a speed which was never seen before. This is the kind of political will we need to see this year as an historic opportunity to place the world on the path of a low carbon economy draws closer.

In just 135 days - world leaders have to agree on a global climate deal at the UN Climate Summit in Copenhagen. This must include crucial mid-term targets and a commitment to provide developing countries with 140 billion US$ annually - to help them tackle climate change and fund forest protection.

Bail out the planet

If a nuclear power station can go solar, then why can't our entire energy system be diverted to clean and safe renewable energy sources, backed by energy efficiency and conservation? If we can bail out the banks, then why can't we provide the 140 billion US dollars a year needed to help the developing world adapt to and mitigate climate change: that includes 40 billion US dollars needed to end tropical deforestation which is responsible for nearly a fifth of global greenhouse gas emissions.

Take Action

Demand our leaders act on climate change. Join the call for world leaders to attend this year's UN Climate Summit in Copenhagen.

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