Sierra Club of Canada Nuclear Campaign
c/o Box 104
Uxbridge, Ontario, Canada L9P 1M6
News Release -- For Release: Tuesday July 17, 2001
Canada supports nuclear power, opposes renewables at G8...
NGOs SAY STOP FINANCING NUCLEAR EXPORTS
Ottawa -- Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from all G8 countries have released a report condemning the state-owned export credit agencies in the G8 countries for financing the sale of nuclear reactors around the world. Leaders of the G8 nations, including Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chrétien, will meet in Genoa, Italy, July 20-22, to decide on improved environmental policies for their export credit agencies.
Canada, together with the United States, is also opposing the G8 Renewable Energy Task Force, whose recommendations are being released today, and presented to the G8 leaders later this week. Canada objects to the Task Force calling for phase-out of financing for nuclear power exports by state export credit agencies (ECAs). The Task Force also calls for 1 billion people to be served with renewable energy by 2010.
Chrétien is also expected to use the Genoa summit to announce $30 million or more in Canadian funding for conversion of Russian nuclear weapons plutonium into nuclear reactor fuel. More than 100,000 people will protest the global policies of the world’s richest nations in Genoa.
Dave Martin, Nuclear Policy Consultant for the Sierra Club of Canada and author of the Canadian section of the NGO report, stated “The nuclear industry is in decline, but it’s too early to dance on its grave. The Canadian government is fighting to continue state export financing and other nuclear subsidies. Canada’s pro-nuclear position puts it on the wrong side of the fence for fighting climate change and promoting green energy.”
“Energy financing by state-owned export credit agencies should be shifted away from nuclear and coal projects to efficiency and renewable energy programs. Canada should be condemned for opposing the recommendations of the G8 Renewable Energy Task Force.”
“Canadian funding for Russian production of plutonium reactor fuel will actually increase nuclear proliferation and environmental problems.”
The 160-page NGO report, Financing Disaster: How the G8 Fund the Global Proliferation of Nuclear Technology, reviews the nuclear histories of the G8 countries, including Canada, Japan, the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, and Russia.
Most of the world has stopped building new nuclear plants, and has opted for cheaper, cleaner and safer electricity options. Nuclear power is plagued by high cost, erratic performance, endemic technical problems, the risk of catastrophic accidents, and environmental problems such as routine radiation releases and radioactive waste management. Despite industry claims of a comeback, world nuclear power is in permanent decline as older plants are shut down, and few new plants are built. However, the death agony is being prolonged through plant life-extensions and sales in the developing world promoted with generous financing from G8 export credit agencies.
There are currently 25 nuclear plants under construction around the world, 14 of which are backed by financing from a G8 export credit agency, amounting to about $10 billion (US). China has been the single largest recipient of ECA loans. Loans and guarantees from Canada’s Export Development Corporation (EDC) for exports of CANDU reactors have totaled about $4 billion (dollars of the year) to countries including India, Pakistan, South Korea, Argentina, Romania and China. Most recently, financing to China for the 1996 sale of two CANDU reactors totaled $1.94 billion.
There has been increasing pressure on Canada’s state export credit agency, the EDC, to clean up its environmental act; to respect human and labour rights; to disclose more information about its activities; and to consult the public at home and in client countries. EDC has financed problematic projects such as the Three Gorges Dam and the Qinshan III nuclear plant in China. Last May, the EDC’s environmental policy was the target of a damning report by the federal Auditor General, resulting in promised reforms and further public consultation. The EDC is also reviewing its disclosure policy, and the government has proposed changes to its governing legislation.
Émilie Revil, Coordinator of the NGO Working Group on the Export Development Corporation, said “The Export Development Corporation has made commitments on environmental protection and disclosure, but it remains to be seen if it will deliver on its promises.”
The Sierra Club of Canada currently has a law suit against the Government of Canada, arguing that an environmental assessment should have been conducted after Cabinet approval of almost $2 billion in financing through EDC for the export of two CANDU reactors to China in 1996. Canada’s state-owned nuclear company, Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) has intervened in the case to delay proceedings, which started in January 1997.
The Genoa Summit will also discuss a program for conversion of Russian nuclear weapons plutonium into reactor fuel (known as MOX, mixed oxide fuel). Prime Minister Chrétien is expected to announce a sizable Canadian contribution (thought to be $30 million or more) towards a $2 billion G8 funding target for a MOX program in Russia. The plutonium fuel would be used in Russian reactors, but it could also be used outside the country. American and Russian MOX fuel is currently being tested by Atomic Energy of Canada Limited at its Chalk River laboratories for possible use in CANDU reactors.
Available from the Sierra Club web site:(access from today’s news release at www.sierraclub.ca/national)
Financing Disaster: How the G8 Fund the Global Proliferation of Nuclear Technology (160 pages)
Excerpts of Financing Disaster (Executive Summary; Nuclear Technology & the G8; The G8's Plutonium Disposition Plan; and the “Canada” section)
For more information:
Dave Martin, co-author of Financing Disaster & Nuclear Policy Consultant, Sierra Club of Canada
tel: 905-852-0571(Uxbridge, Ontario, Canada) E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Antony Froggatt, Editor and co-author of Financing Disaster
tel: +44 20 7923 0412 (London, UK) E-mail: email@example.com
Press Release - Tuesday, July 17, 2001
Sierra Club of Canada Nuclear Campaign