Renewable, not Radioactive: Global call for effective Climate Action ahead of COP 28

Civil society voices from around the world have united in a call for effective climate action and an end to nuclear distraction ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference (CoP 28) which starts in Dubai on November 30th.

Don’t Nuke the Climate, a global civil society initiative with members and supporters from environment, First Nation, trade union, faith, public health and other sectors, has produced two new videos calling on national governments and the global community to embrace and adopt safer, cheaper, faster and more deployable renewable power technologies:

nuclear-powerVideo on Nuclear and Climate

smrVideo on Smal Modular Reactor

As part of its work to debunk pro-nuclear rhetoric using real-world evidence DNtC has previously coordinated a public statement rejecting nuclear power as a climate response that was supported by around 500 organisations across the world:

“When it comes to tackling the impacts of climate change, we need urgent action based on technology that actually exists and delivers.” “These are critical times and we cannot afford to waste time, resources and effort on the unproven tools and false promises of the nuclear sector”

says Dave Sweeney Australian Conservation Foundation

"The very start of the nuclear fuel chain, uranium mining, entails massive environmental, health and social damages to workers and people in the vicinity of the mines."

says Günter Wippel Uranium Network Germany

"Nuclear power is vulnerable to both climate change and wars. Increasing number of climate change consequences, such as floods, hurricanes, droughts, heat waves or storms, are creating big risks for nuclear safety. While wars are increasing the risk of military attacks, such as happening at the Zaporizhzhie nuclear plant in Ukraine. Nuclear power in today's unstable world creates additional risks of radioactive disasters. It also poses a risk of nuclear proliferation because every civil nuclear plant produces nuclear materials that can be used to create nuclear explosive device or dirty bomb. Compare it to renewables where such risks do not exist"

says Vladimir Slivyak, co-chairman for environmental group Ecodefense and the laureate of alternative Nobel prize.

"Nuclear and coal power plants need a lot of water for cooling. Due to the climate crisis rivers provide less and warmer water, as we could see in France in the last years, where Nuclear Power Plants had to shut down because of cooling Problems. Providing enough Water for farming and drinking will be more difficult in the Future. We cannot afford to waste it for cooling of Nuclear Power Plants."

says Christine Hasse RECH France

"From the beginning to the end of the Nuclear Chain various Types of Nuclear Waste are produced, consuming and contaminating huge amounts of Water. High-level radioactive Waste (Spend Fuel) is piling up at Nuclear Power Plants worldwide, with no solution in sight. Tens of thousands of Barrels of Nuclear Waste have been dumped into our Ocean, and are polluting the Waters. The international nuclear lobby likes to leave all this background unmentioned in its propaganda. We don't need any more untenable promises. Nuclear energy is not a solution to the climate crisis."

says Günter Hermeyer BI Lüchow-Dannenberg Germany

"The world should be concerned about nuclear power plants even more since global warming also means warming world seas, mucilage caused by changes in the marine ecosystem due to warming sea and level rises problem. As %95 of the 412 nuclear reactors currently operating in the world are water-cooled how will we cool these reactors under the conditions of warming seas? And how will we avoid difficulties in cooling such as mucilage and sea level rises due to the warming? Despite the need to take measures and start decommissioning nuclear power plants, governments continue to make deals for new nuclear power plants such as seen in the projects in Africa. However, due to the risks of reactors that are under construction on the coasts of the Mediterranean that reach 30 degrees in Turkiye and Egypt and the reactors in the Gulf and the Red Sea that reach 35 degrees, a nuclear catastrophe will be inevitable. Nuclear is not the solution to global warming and it is deepening the problem. For this reason, first of all, governments should abandon their nuclear projects and decide to phase out the existing ones. We as the international civil society dynamics are the ones to urge these governments to do so."

says Dr. Pinar Demircan, Coordinator and independent researcher.

"Nuclear power has no place in a healthy sustainable future. Nuclear power paves the way to proliferation of nuclear weapons. The threat of a conventional war escalating into a nuclear war is imminent in Europe due to the Russian war on Ukraine and in the Middle-East due to the war in Gaza. IPPNW international calls on all nine nuclear weapons states to declare and commit to a "no first use" policy. IPPNW also calls on all states to join the nuclear ban treaty (TPNW)."

says Angelika Claussen IPPNW Germany.

COP Don't Nuke The Climate Australia/Pacific Webinar

This Australia/ Pacific/ Asia forum is made specifically for people that will be attending COP 28, but open to everyone interested.

Its aim is to provide people inside COP with the tools and arguments to prevent resources being siphoned away from real climate solutions by the nuclear industry.

See Webinar recording here.

See also info on Nuclear and Climate in German from Global 2000 here.

Joint press release: Nuclear power cannot be a climate solution - COP28


The 28th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP28) opened on November 30, 2023, in the United Arab Emirates. Today, the third day of the COP, the United States took the lead and announced a pledge to triple the nuclear energy capacity worldwide by 2050, with around 20 countries including Japan showing their support.

Nuclear power is an unstable, dangerous, and economically unreasonable source of power, polluting the environment and violating human rights, from uranium mining to operation, decommissioning, and disposal of nuclear fuel. It should not be regarded as a solution to the climate crisis.

The pledge to triple the nuclear capacity worldwide by 2050 is simply not realistic. World leaders have not learned from the failures of the nuclear industry in recent years. For example, Toshiba, a leading Japanese company, was brought to the brink of bankruptcy by the failure of its nuclear power business in the United States. Just recently, NuScale Power, a U.S.-based company, announced the cancellation of its plan to build small nuclear reactors (SMR). It was obvious that NuSscale’s SMR was not price competitive even after a large subsidy injection. Spending public money on nuclear power, which has no future, will only unjustifiably enrich the nuclear industry.

To tackle the climate crisis, it is necessary to phase out fossil fuels as soon as possible. False “solutions” such as nuclear power will only delay real action and strengthen existing structures of injustice.

In response to the announcement, civil society organizations and activists from around the world issued the following comments.

The world has already witnessed many crises caused by nuclear power. Nuclear power plants are not only expensive but also unstable and dangerous sources of power, prone to accidents and troubles. In Japan, nearly 13 years have passed since the Fukushima nuclear accident in 2011, but the situation is far from over and people are still suffering from its effects. The disposal site for high-level radioactive waste has not been determined. Keeping nuclear power plants running will leave a huge burden on future generations. Kanna Mitsuta, Executive Director of Friends of the Earth Japan

“Promoting a nuclear expansion at COP 28 is only a plan for climate failure. If this is what the Biden Administration has to offer, the rest of the world should stop listening,” Tim Judson, executive director of the US-based NGO, the Nuclear Information and Resource Service. “Hinging climate action on nuclear energy could derail the entire Paris Agreement and block any possibility of keeping global warming below 2C, much less 1.5C. The Biden Administration knows this, because building nuclear power plants has already proven to be a total failure, both in the US and the rest of the world. More than half of the nuclear reactors proposed in the US have been canceled over the last 60 years, the average construction time of those that were completed is over 10 years, the cost of construction has risen steadily for the industry’s entire history, and nearly every project has significant cost overruns and delays. We already know what actually works. Wind and solar are the cheapest and fastest-growing sources in the world, and other renewable, efficient solutions for a clean energy transition are on the same path. If the US government wants to be a leader, then it must first stop pushing failed techno-fantasies and false solutions like nuclear power and carbon capture, use its power and influence to advance a just and equitable transition to renewable energy, and pay its fair share for climate finance and loss and damage.”

“It is baffling that in 2023 countries like Japan are still promoting nuclear as a solution to the climate crisis. The nuclear industry has proven time and again to be a major source of destruction, it has no role to play in the just and equitable energy transition we so direly need. We have no time to waste on such false solutions that only delay and distract real and adequate action to address the climate crisis." Friends of the Earth International, Lise Masson

“Introduction of nuclear power plant usually takes 20 years and it will do nothing to deal with the climate change we are currently facing. While we are waiting for the nuclear power plant to be constructed, we have to rely on existing fossil fuel infrastructure which will delay decarbonization. The cost of nuclear power plants far exceeds that of renewable energy. The number of climate-related shutdowns at nuclear power plants has increased about eight times over the past 30 years. Nuclear power plants are highly vulnerable to climate change. The government and industry forcefully promote costly and time-consuming nuclear power rather than renewable energy that is cheaper and faster to introduce, but it does not do any good for either decarbonization or for consumers” Hajime Matsukubo, Executive Director of Citizens’ Nuclear Information Center

“Nuclear power is vulnerable to both climate change and wars. Increasing number of climate change consequences, such as floods, hurricanes, droughts, heat waves or storms, are creating big risks for nuclear safety. While wars are increasing the risk of military attacks, such as happening at the Zaporizhia nuclear plant in Ukraine. Nuclear power in today’s unstable world creates additional risks of radioactive disasters. It also poses a risk of nuclear proliferation because every civil nuclear plant produces nuclear materials that can be used to create nuclear explosive device or dirty bomb. Compare it to renewables where such risks do not exist" Vladimir Slivyak, co-chairman for environmental group Ecodefense and the laureate of Right Livelihood, alternative Nobel prize.

”Japanese energy policy heavily depends on fossil fuel and Japan has not committed to total coal phase out. Without fossil fuel phase-out, we cannot solve the climate crisis even if we increase the production of nuclear power. In the past, Japan increased its nuclear capacity but it did not decrease the emission at all. After the nuclear crisis in 2011, Japan’s emissions decreased due to the expansion of renewable energy and energy saving. Moreover, nuclear power plants were mostly being shut down while decreasing emissions. Legal actions and extra safety measures prevent the restart of nuclear power plants in Japan and it is unclear if Japan meets its energy target with nuclear power. While the cost of nuclear energy increases, the cost of renewable energy keeps decreasing. It does not make any sense to triple the production of nuclear power by 2050.” Mie Asaoka, Attorney at Law and President of Kiko Network

“Pro-nuclear voices have put a lot of money and effort into this CoP to promote nuclear power as a climate response. We don’t agree. Existing nuclear technology is high cost and high risk and new or ‘next generation’ nuclear, including the heavily promoted small modular reactors (SMR’s), is unproven and not in commercial deployment anywhere in the world. We need effective climate action, not nuclear distractions. The Australian experience of communities and First Nations people with the impacts of uranium mining, nuclear testing and waste dumping has shown the gap between nuclear industry rhetoric and lived reality. Our shared energy future cannot be built or based on industry assurances or politicians promises. Renewable energy is proven, popular, safer, cheaper and far more deployable. Our low carbon energy future is renewable, not radioactive.” Dave Sweeney, Nuclear policy analyst, Australian Conservation Foundation

“Despite being one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change I still don’t support nuclear energy as a climate solution because I know as a Marshallese person the destructive, volatile nature of nuclear energy. To this day we’re still feeling the horrific consequences of the US nuclear weapons testing program on our country so to see if touted as a climate solution is horrifying.The solutions are already here. Cheap, reliable and safe renewable energy like wind and solar are proven and expanding. We can’t afford to be distracted, renewables should be our focus.” Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner, Climate Envoy for the Republic of the Marshall Islands

“The legacy of nuclear in the Asia Pacific region is a harmful one, as is the legacy of climate-destroying fossil fuels. This is not a climate solution, and it should not be greenwashed as one. It is not safe for our people nor is it affordable. To address the worst of the climate crisis, we need to urgently phase out fossil fuels and transition to genuine climate solutions like safe, clean, fair renewable energy." Joseph Sikulu, 350 Pacific Managing Director

“There is no space for dangerous nuclear power to accelerate the decarbonization needed to achieve the Paris climate goal. In Japan, we experienced the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Disaster in 2011, of which the cause is still unidentified and from which many are still suffering. Japan must stop using the climate crisis to justify its addiction to nuclear energy while it allows carbon-intensive industries to prolong fossil projects. It is nothing more than a dangerous distraction. The attempt of a “nuclear renaissance” led by nuclear industries’ lobbyists since the 2000s has never been successful – it is simply too costly, too risky, too undemocratic, and too time-consuming. We already have cheaper, safer, democratic, and faster solutions to the climate crisis, and they are renewable energy and energy efficiency.” Masayoshi Iyoda, 350 Japan Campaigner

IPPNW Pressrelease 12.12.2023 (in German)

Atomkraft ist kein Klimaretter!

Gegen Formelkompromisse und Scheinlösungen bei der COP28

Anlässlich der Weltklimakonferenz COP28 in Dubai fordert die ärztliche Organisation IPPNW, am Ziel eines Ausstiegs aus den fossilen Energien strikt festzuhalten. Sie warnt davor, sich auf Formelkompromisse um CO2-Abscheidungs- und Lagertechnologien oder auf Scheinlösungen wie die Atomkraft einzulassen, wie es der neueste Entwurf einer Abschlusserklärung vorsieht. Dagegen fordert die IPPNW einen konsequenten und schnellen Umstieg auf erneuerbare Energien.

„Atomkraft ist schlicht zu langsam, zu teuer, zu gefährlich und zu schlecht mit den Erneuerbaren kombinierbar, als dass sie einen Beitrag zum Klimaschutz leisten könnte", betont die IPPNW-Vorsitzende Dr. Angelika Claußen. „Die Abscheidungs- und Lagertechnologie, das sogenannte Carbon Capture and Storage, entspricht auf Seiten der fossilen Energien dem, was für die Atomlobby ihre Small Modular Reactors sind. Beide Technologien stehen absehbar nicht zu Verfügung und sind ökologisch und wirtschaftlich höchst fraglich", so Claußen weiter. „Das 1,5 Grad-Ziel wird verfehlt, von den ökologischen Auswirkungen beider Technologien und deren Anwendungen ganz zu schweigen."

Ein Ausbau der Atomkraft entspricht weder der Forderung nach wirtschaftlicher Effizienz noch dem Ziel einer global gerechten Energiewende. Der Anteil der Atomkraft am globalen Strommix ist im vergangenen Jahr auf den niedrigsten Stand seit 40 Jahren gesunken - ein Anzeichen dafür, dass sich der Ausbau der Atomkraft wirtschaftlich nicht rechnet, wie der kürzlich veröffentlichte unabhängige World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2023 aufzeigt. Von den durch den Ausbau der weltweiten atomaren Infrastruktur bedingten Abhängigkeiten profitieren vor allem die Atomwaffenstaaten und die von ihnen betriebenen oder subventionierten Atomunternehmen. In Anbetracht der vorgelegten Daten erscheint die Verdreifachung der Stromerzeugung aus Atomenergie bis zum Jahr 2050, wie es eine Absichtserklärung von 22 Ländern auf der COP28 vorschlägt, höchst unrealistisch.

Vehement widerspricht die IPPNW diese Erklärung, die die Atomenergie ins Zentrum der Zukunftsvision einer dekarbonisierten Energieversorgung bis 2050 stellt. Auch in den jüngsten Entwurf einer Abschlusserklärung des COP-Gipfels hat es die Atomkraft als vermeintlich CO2-arme Energie geschafft. „Es handelt sich um ein gefährliches Ablenkmanöver, das eine schlecht gealterte Technologie vor ihrem Ende bewahren soll. Die Klimakrise mahnt uns aber zur Eile", so Dr. Angelika Claußen. Überdies liegt die Atomkraft in ihrer CO2-Bilanz deutlich über den gängigen und marktfähigen Erneuerbaren, wobei die Emissionen aus der langwierigen Zwischen- und Endlagerung radioaktiver Abfälle noch gar nicht mitgerechnet sind. Zwischen den Zeilen zeigt die Absichtserklärung für Atomkraft jedoch ein zentrales Problem der Atomindustrie auf: ihre Unwirtschaftlichkeit.

„Offensichtlich geht es hier ums Geld. Eine Quersubventionierung des Atomsektors durch die Weltbank und andere Entwicklungsbanken, wie sie die Erklärung fordert, muss unbedingt verhindert werden. Diese Ressourcen müssen für die Erneuerbaren, für Klimaanpassung und für Verluste und Schäden durch den Klimawandel zur Verfügung stehen", so Claußen, die für die IPPNW an der COP28 in Dubai teilgenommen hat, weiter.

Pro-Atom-Positionen werden auf den COP-Gipfeln vermehrt von Organisationen vertreten, die sich einen zivilgesellschaftlichen Anstrich geben, während sie tatsächlich aus der Atomindustrie stammen. „Wir haben vor Ort beobachtet, dass Organisationen der Atomlobby beispielsweise versuchen die Stimmung zu beeinflussen," berichtet Bimal Khadka vom Board of Directors der internationalen IPPNW. „Wir dürfen nicht vergessen, dass die Treiber der Atomkraft weiterhin die Atomwaffenstaaten sind. Wir sehen eine drohende Querfinanzierung der Erneuerung von Atomwaffenarsenalen im Namen des Klimaschutzes", ergänzt Dr. Angelika Claußen.