Statement of 14 Environmental Organizations

Sep 14 2000

In December 1997, the third Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP 3), took place in Kyoto, Japan. The resulting Kyoto Protocol introduced several market-based "flexibility mechanisms" as alternate means for countries to meet their targets for reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. The so-called "Clean Development Mechanism" (CDM), identified in Article 12 of the Protocol, was intended to allow developed countries to carry out projects in developing countries, and claim emission credits. While the Kyoto Protocol discussed the CDM in a general way, its actual application will likely be decided at the sixth session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 6) to be held November 13-24 in The Hague, Netherlands. A Session of the Subsidiary Bodies to Conference of the Parties is being held in Lyon, France September 11-15 to come up with the final draft wording of the agreement that will be discussed at COP 6. One of the most controversial aspects of the CDM is which technologies will be allowed for emission credits. Most proponents envisioned the CDM applying to green energy technologies such as renewable energy, conservation programs, and low-impact hydraulic projects. However, there has been a campaign to allow inclusion of technologies that would either provide only marginal benefits, or even have negative net environmental impacts. These technologies include nuclear power, so-called "clean" coal technologies, and high-impact hydraulic projects. In particular, the international nuclear industry, and a few supporting countries, have lobbied for nuclear power to be allowed under the CDM. Nuclear power has entered a period of sustained decline for a number of reasons: its high cost, the threat of catastrophic accidents, the inherent connection to nuclear weapons proliferation, and environmental problems such as routine radioactive emissions and long-term radioactive waste management. For some years, the nuclear industry has hoped that an international carbon emissions trading system would give it a new lease on life by providing another revenue stream. At issue is whether nuclear power can be considered a form of sustainable energy development, as required in the Kyoto Protocol. There is also another general problem: CDM credits may simply become a way of avoiding meaningful reductions in current greenhouse gas emissions in developed countries. Initially, nuclear power proponents called for the explicit inclusion of nuclear power in the CDM. However, it was clear that this gambit would not be successful because of widespread opposition to nuclear power. Moreover, green energy supporters responded with an alternate proposal for a positive "inclusion" list naming renewable energy, conservation programs and low-impact hydraulic. The nuclear industry and its allies then shifted to a more subtle strategy, which is to oppose any exclusion or inclusion lists at all, and argue that the nature of CDM projects should be totally at the discretion of the developing countries. CANADIAN ENVIRONMENTAL GROUPS OPPOSE NUCLEAR POWER IN THE CLEAN DEVELOPMENT MECHANISM The government of Canada has embarrassed itself internationally by being a prominent supporter of nuclear power in the CDM, along with a few other countries, notably China, France, and Japan. At the 1999 COP 5 meeting in Bonn, Germany, the Climate Action Network (CANET), representing about 300 environmental groups around the world with over 10 million members, called for the explicit exclusion of nuclear power, as well as the exclusion of so-called "clean coal", and large hydraulic projects from the CDM. Nuclear power is no solution to climate change for several reasons: 1. The global climate change crisis is in large part due to deforestation and emissions from transport fuels. Nuclear power does not affect these problems. 2. Even with emission credits, nuclear power is simply too expensive to replace current fossil-fired electricity generation on any meaningful scale. 3. Nuclear power would simply substitute other environmental problems for emissions of greenhouse gases (risk of catastrophic accidents, routine radioactive emissions, and the still unresolved problem of long-term radioactive waste management). Nuclear power is therefore not a form of sustainable development, as mandated by the Kyoto Protocol. 4. Nuclear power carries the risk of nuclear weapons proliferation, and is also for that reason not a form of sustainable development. The undersigned Canadian environmental groups continue to support the CANET position for explicit exclusion of nuclear power from the CDM, and call on the Canadian government, specifically Environment Minister David Anderson and Foreign Affairs Minister Lloyd Axworthy, to abandon their ill-advised campaign to allow the CDM to be applied to nuclear power. Nuclear power has been promoted as a way of helping developing countries, but in reality it tightens the chains of debt, dependency and environmental degradation. The high cost of nuclear power precludes investment in more appropriate forms of conservation, efficiency and renewable energy. Nuclear power is unsafe, uneconomic, and un-sustainable. It is no solution to the global crisis of climate change. ENDORSING ORGANIZATIONS: Campaign for Nuclear PhaseoutContact: Kristen Ostling (Ottawa, Ontario)Tel: 613-789-3634E-mail: Canadian Environmental Law AssociationContact: Theresa McClenaghan (Toronto, Ontario)Tel: 416-960-2284E-mail: Concerned Citizens of Renfrew County and AreaContact: Ole Hendrickson, Researcher (Pembroke, Ontario)E-mail: David Suzuki FoundationContact: Catherine Fitzpatrick, Climate Change Specialist (Vancouver, British Columbia)Tel: 604-732 4228E-mail: climate@DAVIDSUZUKI.ORG Ecology NorthContact: Chris O'Brien (Yellowknife, Northwest Territories)867-873-9607E-mail: chriso@INTERNORTH.COM Greenpeace CanadaContact: Steven Guilbeault, Climate and Energy Campaigner (Montreal, Quebec)Responsable de la campagne Climat et Énergie Tel: 514-933-0021E-mail: Humber Environment Action GroupContact: Martin von Mirbach (Corner Brook, Newfoundland)Tel: 709-634-0371E-mail: Inter-Church Uranium Committee Educational CooperativeContact: Linda Murphy, President (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan)Tel: 306-374-6023E-mail: Mouvement Vert de la MauricieContact: Patrick Rasmussen (St. Mathieu du Parc, Quebec)Tel: 514-392-0096E-mail: mvm@MARCHE.COM Nuclear Awareness ProjectContact: Dave Martin, Research Director (Uxbridge, Ontario)E-mail: Pembina Institute for Appropriate DevelopmentContact: Robert Hornung, Climate Change Program Director (Ottawa, Ontario)Tel: 613 235 6288E-mail: Science for PeaceContact: Dr. Helmut Burkhardt or Peter Shepherd, Co-Chairs of the Energy Working Group (Toronto, Ontario)E-mail:, Sierra Club of Canada Contact: John Bennett, Director, Atmosphere and Energy (Ottawa, Ontario)Tel: 613-241-4611 E-mail: