George Monbiot, Germany and a brighter future
George Monbiot returns to the nuclear question today. He laments the cosy relationship between industry, regulators and government but says these shouldn't be reasons to stop building new, safer nuclear reactors. He also bemoans the fast phase-out of nuclear in Germany, which he says will lead to increased greenhouse gases.
Whilst it is true that Germany's rapid transition away from nuclear power is likely to increase greenhouse gas emissions in the short term, it also true that it has led to new ambitious and exciting plans on renewable energy and energy saving. These will build on the impressive progress they've already made and put them on a path to a safe and low-carbon future.
In the last five years, investments in Germany's clean energy sector grew by over 75 percent, creating a dynamic industry that supports 367,000 jobs. In 2009, Germany was ranked third in the world in installed renewable energy capacity and has invested more in future capacity than any other country.
Germany's decision to phase out less popular technology, while continuing to tackle climate change, can provide important lessons for other countries. Due to the success of renewable energy and energy efficiency in the country, it is in a strong position to choose this pathway. Germany has almost tripled its share of renewables in its final energy consumption from 3.8 percent in 2000 to 11 percent in 2010. Renewables have even been growing faster than most studies predicted in the past.
The Cabinet decision also stresses that Germany remains committed to its ambitious climate change targets of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 40% in 2020, compared to 1990 levels.
A recent report for the UK Committee on Climate Change by consultancy Poyry shows that the UK could provide over 90 per cent of the electricity from renewable energy but only if the number of nuclear plants were severely constrained. The reality is that forging ahead with eight new nuclear would seriously inhibit the expansion of the renewable power with the benifits it brings.
In our previous blogs we have said that our other concerns with nuclear power are to do with nuclear waste and nuclear proliferation. We support research into potentially safer thorium nuclear reactors in case we need them in the future.
The excellent Dept of Energy and Climate Change energy pathways model shows that in the UK that it is possible to provide the electricity we need through renewable power.
A focus on building renewables can provide the UK with new industries and jobs as well as free us from the dominant control of the big 6 energy companies. Building new nuclear power stations in the UK would only maintain their stranglehold of the market.
Friends of the Earth will continue to stand firm against the UK Government's obsession with nuclear and the threat it poses to a clean energy future.
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