Today, Friends of the Earth Japan submitted a petition letter to the EU Parliament demanding for nuclear power to not be included in the EU taxonomy. The petition was signed by 20,353 individuals and 387 organizations.
The petition states: “from uranium mining to nuclear power plant operations and decommissioning, nuclear power plants generate radioactive waste and continue to emit radioactive materials into the environment, in direct opposition to being environmentally sustainable," and “the inclusion of nuclear power in the EU Taxonomy and the EU giving its stamp on nuclear power as being green would not only undermine the credibility of the EU Taxonomy, but also leave a significant negative legacy for the future of the EU and the world.”
The Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant disaster is not over. The high-level radioactive waste needs to be managed deep underground for more than 100,000 years, but the final waste disposal site has not been decided upon in Japan, nor in many other countries. Environmental contamination and human rights violations also continue to occur in the process of mining uranium, used as a fuel. Taking into account such problems, the letter criticized that positioning nuclear energy as a climate change measure would go against the ‘do no significant harm’ (DNSH) principle of the EU Taxonomy.
Kanna Mitsuta, Executive Director of Friends of the Earth Japan says: “The Russian invasion of Ukraine made the vulnerability and dangers of nuclear power plants more clear than ever. We do not have much time to tackle climate change. We need to accelerate the shift towards a decentralized renewable energy system, not strengthen our dependency on costly nuclear or fossil fuels. I hope the EU Parliament will vote against the inclusion of nuclear and gas in the Taxonomy".
FoE Japan submitted the same petition letter to the Chair of the EU Commission on January 11th this year.
The joint ECON-ENVI Committee will hold a vote on a motion for resolution objecting to the Complementary Climate Delegated Act (CDA) under the Taxonomy Regulation, adopted by the Commission on 9 March 2022, on 14 June. The Parliament is expected to vote in early July.
The text of the petition is as follows.
June 10, 2022
Dear members of ECON and ENVI,
Nuclear energy that is neither “sustainable" nor “green"
should not be included in the EU taxonomy
The European Commission’s plan to include nuclear power in the EU Taxonomy as contributing substantially to climate change mitigation has greatly shocked Japanese citizens who experienced the nuclear disaster.
From uranium mining to nuclear power plant operations and decommissioning, nuclear power plants generate radioactive waste and continue to emit radioactive materials into the environment, in direct opposition to being environmentally sustainable. The inclusion of nuclear power in the EU Taxonomy and the EU giving its stamp on nuclear power as being green would not only undermine the credibility of the EU Taxonomy, but also leave a significant negative legacy for the future of the EU and the world. This is something that we cannot accept.
1. The Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant Disaster Is Not Over
The disaster at the TEPCO Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant is not over. More than 30,000 people still live as evacuees without being able to return to their hometowns. Many people lost their lives, livelihoods, and meaning of life.
The decommissioning of the reactor has made little progress, and the Japanese government plans to release a large amount of water containing radioactive materials from the site into the ocean, and is trying to use the soil containing radioactive materials generated by decontamination for public works projects. Moreover, the investigation into the causes of the nuclear disaster is still ongoing.
The Fukushima nuclear disaster occurred only 25 years after the serious accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Until this happened, the Japanese government and utility companies had irresponsibly promoted nuclear power plants, claiming that “nuclear power plants are absolutely safe."
The EU should learn from the tragedy of such nuclear disasters, and avoid a repeat of what happened in the Soviet Union and Japan.
2. Nuclear energy causes serious environmental contamination and human rights violations
Nuclear power plants produce various levels of nuclear waste as long as they continue to operate. Despite the fact that high-level radioactive waste needs to be managed deep underground for more than 100,000 years, the final waste disposal site has not been decided upon in Japan, nor in many other countries. Even when the waste is disposed of deep underground, future environmental pollution is inevitable.
Environmental contamination and human rights violations also continue to occur in the process of mining uranium, used as a fuel.
Nuclear power plants are built not in the cities which consume much of the electricity, but in sparsely populated areas away from cities. The areas which suffered most from the nuclear disaster in Japan was not Tokyo, where the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant was sending electricity, but Fukushima and its surrounding areas, where the electricity was not used. Workers who are directly engaged in operations and inspections are also always exposed to health risks. In this sense, nuclear energy can be called a symbol of great social disparity and injustice.
3. Nuclear energy cannot be used to combat climate change.
As mentioned above, making nuclear energy a climate change measure is against the ‘do no significant harm’ (DNSH) principle of the EU Taxonomy.
At the same time, nuclear power plants are prone to accidents and trouble, are expensive, and are unstable. In recent years, there have been a number of reports showing that nuclear power plants are vulnerable to climate change. For example, due to extreme weather events, there are cases in which water used to cool the reactor core cannot be extracted due to rising water temperatures, forcing nuclear power plants to shut down, and there is an increased risk of flooding of nuclear power plants along coastal areas.
The severity of the damage caused by disasters at large-scale nuclear power plants is clear from the situation at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. At the same time, there are also problems with small modular reactors that cannot be resolved. Continued use of nuclear power will encourage a social structure that consumes large amounts of electricity, and the EU will lose the opportunity to make energy and society sustainable.
For these reasons, we sincerely ask you to oppose the inclusion of nuclear power projects in the EU Taxonomy.