"Higantes" welcome the Greenpeace ship MV Arctic Sunrise on the first stop of the South East Asia Choose Positive Energy tour.
It must have come to her in a flash, a divine epiphany during
another boring bureaucratic meeting. "I know," she thought, "we
will export nuclear energy to developing nations. They'll get off
our backs about wanting electricity and we will claim we are
offering a solution to climate change at the same time."
What else could European Union Energy Commissioner Loyola de
Palacio have been thinking?
The proposal presented by de Palacio yesterday to push polluting
coal and nuclear technology on developing countries at the
Johannesburg Earth Summit next month is not the only one.
Australia, Canada and the US are also undermining international
action against climate change by pushing climate-disrupting fossil
fuels and radioactive waste-generating nuclear technology on
"Safe" nuclear energy, along with "clean" coal, will help stop
climate change, they say.
In truth, "inherently safe" reactors are a myth. An accident can
occur in any nuclear reactor, releasing deadly fission products
into the environment. Even normal operation of reactors regularly
releases radioactive materials into the air and water.
The problem of burgeoning nuclear waste has also never been
dealt with. It's been 50 years, and the nuclear industry still
hasn't found a solution to disposing highly radioactive spent fuel
rods, for example. This waste will be around for hundreds of
thousands, sometimes millions of years.
But perhaps they have found a solution - dump it on developing
And there is also no such thing as clean coal, for this is the
world's dirtiest fuel. A new clean coal plant created with federal
subsidies in Jacksonville, US, for example, will still spew 10
times as much smog-causing nitrogen oxide as a natural gas
generator. It will also release twice as much carbon dioxide, which
contributes to climate change, and considerable amounts of sulphur
dioxide, an ingredient in smog and acid rain.
Obvious oxymorons aside, it is mad folly to replace one
environmental disaster with another. Climate change will be stopped
by increased energy efficiency, and shift to renewable energy such
as wind, solar and biomass. It will not be solved by taking a step
backward to the dirty and dangerous technologies of the last
And developing nations don't want our dirty, antiquated
The Spanish Energy Commissioner's proposal was met by protest
today in the Philippines. Half a dozen traditional Filipino harvest
giants rallied at Manila harbour as the Greenpeace ship Arctic
The five metre papier mache protestors or "higantes" are one of
the Phillippine's most famous cultural icons. Historically,
regional workers made higantes for the harvest celebrations to both
give thanks for the crop, and at the same time poke fun at their
unaware Spanish overseers, who assumed the giants were honouring
rather than mocking them.
This is an apt response to a proposal that is energy colonialism
at its worst.
The demand for electricity in developing countries is growing,
but these days there is a choice. Why should developing countries
be forced to make the same mistakes their northern partners did?
The European nuclear industry is on its knees, crippled by
spiralling costs and a growing radioactive waste mountain. Germany,
Italy, Sweden, Switzerland and the Netherlands are currently
engaged in nuclear phase outs.
It is simply obscene for the European Commission to push its
deadly mistakes on developing countries when the technology exists
for clean, sustainable energy now.
We are lobbying governments to make a commitment at the Earth
Summit to provide clean and affordable renewable energy to the two
billion people around the world who currently live without