Energy policy and nuclear power after Fukushima

By | May 1, 2011

BERLIN, GERMANY - FEBRUARY 17:  Former German ...

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Joschka Fischer, former leader of the German Green Party and former foreign minister of Germany, writes in Project Syndicate:

… political power, not the requirements of energy policy, is what makes giving up nuclear energy so difficult. As a rule, the path to nuclear-power status always begins with so-called “civilian” nuclear programs. The supposed “civilian” nuclear ambitions of Iran have thus, for instance, led to a large number of such “civilian” programs in neighboring states. Honni soit qui mal y pense!

And, of course, the reactions of the nuclear powers to the disaster at Fukushima will be watched and analyzed closely by the so-called “clandestine threshold countries.”

So how will the world – first and foremost, the main nuclear powers – react to the Fukushima disaster? Will the tide truly turn, propelling the world towards nuclear disarmament and a future free of nuclear weapons? Or will we witness attempts to downplay the calamity and return to business as usual as soon as possible?

Fukushima has presented the world with a far-reaching, fundamental choice. It was Japan, the high-tech country par excellence (not the latter-day Soviet Union) that proved unable to take adequate precautions to avert disaster in four reactor blocks. What, then, will a future risk assessment look like if significantly less organized and developed countries begin – with the active assistance of the nuclear powers – to acquire civilian nuclear-energy capabilities?

In case you don’t know, we are currently having debates on nuclear power plants in Germany, and the Fukushima problem might have helped the Green Party gain control of the conservative Baden-Würtemmberg, the richest state in Germany (think Porsche, Mercedes Benz, Bosch), where the CDU, the ruling party, has ruled for the past 58 years. The interesting thing is that the Greens have now inherited four nuclear power plants in the state, and people are watching to see how they deal with the situation.

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