Slow progress at Bonn

30 November 1999

At the latest round of climate talks in Bonn, the nuclear lobby pushed the international community to consider nuclear energy as a future option. The Cop 5 round of talks focussed on the development of a Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) designed to establish which technologies are most suitable to allow developing countries to improve their standard of living without having disastrous impacts on global climate.

The international community is reluctant to recognise the benefits of nuclear energy, which produces electricity without emitting CO2 and other greenhouse gases. Germany, Austria and Italy are implacably opposed and other countries’ politicians are not prepared to back nuclear power. Finnish environment minister Satu Hassi, said that it was “highly unlikely” that the EU would support nuclear power projects as part of the CDM.

But according to Gaston Meskens, a member of the European Nuclear Society’s Young Generation Network (YNG), at least nuclear power was mentioned as a possibility in the plenary session. This is an advance on the last meeting in Buenos Aires, when nuclear was not considered at all.

“We feel now we are part of the process and have a voice as strong as other non-governmental organisations. This is a big change,” said Meskens.

“We want nuclear power in the discussions on an equal basis and not treated as the black sheep.” The YNG argues that managed responsibly, nuclear power has a contribution to make to global development.

“We understand that there is a big difference between installing solar panels and building nuclear in a developing country,” says a YGN statement. “It is clear that building nuclear stations is only possible in a culture of peace and safety consciousness.” Cop 5 is the latest in the international conferences aimed at establishing a global system to address the problem of global warming, follows on from meetings in Kyoto and Buenos Aires. The Kyoto meeting in 1997 established an international protocol, but few countries have yet to ratify it.

The next meeting, Cop 6, will be held in The Hague in November 2000.

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