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The ongoing climate catastrophe is making its effects felt on a more regular basis as humanity runs out of its ‘carbon budget’ to remain below 1.5°C. The European Commission, as part of its ‘climate commitments’, has deemed nuclear and gas as sufficiently sustainable sources of energy to include into the EU taxonomy - thus channeling further investment into these activities in the decades to come.
This All Member Vote (AMV) is intended to define the stance of the movement regarding nuclear energy and whether it is indeed green as proponents argue or painted green as detractors have pointed out?
During the feedback period preceding this AMV, members highlighted the following in favor of nuclear energy being green:
Nuclear energy will be required for the foreseeable future due to its low-carbon energy production as well as acting as stable power source to stabilize electricity grids
Upcoming technological advances in nuclear energy will theoretically have reduced accident rates and be less toxic to the environment
Nuclear energy provides around 25% of electricity in the European Union
Nuclear energy requires less physical space per unit of electricity production compared to renewable energies
Nuclear power plants have a longer lifespan vis-a-vis renewable sources
Existing nuclear power plants could remain online as a transitional arrangement
Other members were against the nuclear energy being classified as green due to the following:
Advances in renewable energy allow for the production of low-carbon electricity without the associated risks inherent in nuclear energy
Inherent risks with nuclear energy cannot be solved (significant disasters, waste that remain radioactive for thousands of years, diversion towards military use, inherently an oligopolistic industry, further entrenches a hard state security apparatus)
Theoretical advances in nuclear energy, as well as emerging prototypes of next generation plants, are unproven at a mass scale and will not be ready in the remaining time that we have to avert further climate catastrophe - nuclear power stations take around 10 years to build and decades to decommission
Intermittency issues with renewable energies are surmountable
Nuclear energy is inherently more expensive - to build, operate and decommission
Solar, hydro and wind produce around 29% of electricity in the EU
Nuclear power stations often require placement close to or at coastal areas that will be more vulnerable given rising sea-levels and increasing flash floods due to climate change
Renewable energies provide far more employment opportunities compared to nuclear power
Mining of uranium, along with placement of waste disposal sites, has caused significant damage to indigenous peoples and underprivileged communities. Uranium is currently not mined at scale in Europe and would rely on external supply (primarily from the Global South)
The designation of nuclear power as sustainable will divert necessary investments into renewables energies
Members are thus being requested to carefully consider the pros and cons of nuclear energy, as well as keep in mind that as a progressive movement, our considerations go beyond merely technical - but into the social, ecological and political.
The question, therefore, to our Members is:
Should DiEM25 support the classification of nuclear energy as ‘green’ and ‘sustainable’ given the aims, values and direction of our movement?