The Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) has joined with its European partner groups, the Cities for a Nuclear Free Europe (CNFE) and the Alliance of Regions for Phasing out Nuclear Power in Europe (1), in issuing a joint letter to the Board of Governors and the Board of Directors of the European Investment Bank (EIB), calling on excluding the support of nuclear energy from its lending criteria.
The three organisations include towns, cities, county, island and regional communities from across Europe who remain highly concerned with aging nuclear facilities and are opposed to the development of new nuclear facilities. The three organisations strongly support an energy mix of renewable energy, smart energy, energy efficiency and energy storage.
The three civic network organisations have studied with interest the draft ‘EIB Energy Lending Policy – supporting the energy transformation’. This sees nuclear energy being included in future European lending policy for the EIB.
The reasons given by CNFE, NFLA and the Alliance of Regions in their joint letter for omitting nuclear energy from any form of public financing include the following:
- Nuclear power is by no means carbon neutral when considering the life cycle of the power source.
- Europe is heavily dependent on the import of uranium from countries outside the continent.
- Nuclear power is not economically viable – the joint letter quotes from a July 2019 German report by the research agency DIW concluding that, after reviewing the trends in nuclear power plant construction since 1951, it calculates that the average 1,000MW nuclear power plant would have an economic loss of 8 billion euros. This holds for all plausible ranges of specific investment costs, weighted average cost of capital, and wholesale electricity prices. (2)
- Nuclear plants are not safe in a densely populated continent – the joint letter notes a Swiss study that calculates between 16.4 and 24 million European inhabitants on average would be affected by a large radio-contamination in the event of an accident at a nuclear power plant (NPP) in Europe. Between 20,000 and nearly 50,000 radio-induced cancer cases, depending on the specific NPP, were also calculated in the Swiss study. (3)
- Following the IPCC climate change report, many Councils across Europe have declared a ‘climate emergency’ – given such urgency, spending resources on new nuclear, which is unlikely to be built in time and to the amount required in order to have a significantly positive impact on climate change, is not an effective use of public money.
It is understood that the draft EIB energy lending policy is being discussed at the September meeting of the EIB Board of Directors. Considering the aspects listed above, the three networks have called on both the Board of Directors and the Board of Governors to adapt the draft EIB energy lending policy in a way that sees nuclear power being excluded from the European lending policy.
The letter is co-signed by Ulli Sima, Executive City Councillor for the Environment and Vienna Public Utilities, on behalf of CNFE; Rudi Anschober, Regional Minister for Environment, Climate, Consumer Protection and Integration, Upper Austria on behalf of the Alliance of Regions for Phasing out Nuclear Power Across Europe; and Councillor David Blackburn, Chair of the UK and Ireland Nuclear Free Local Authorities Steering Committee, on behalf of its member authorities.
Staff from the three organisations are looking to meet up in Vienna as part of the Conference – ‘Climate Crisis – why nuclear is not helping’ being organised by Global 2000 and the ‘Don’t Nuke the Climate’ Coalition. This is being held on October 7th and 8th, 2019. (4)
NFLA Steering Committee Chair Councillor David Blackburn said:
“I am pleased to co-sign this joint letter from Europe’s three leading local government organisations that call for a move away from nuclear energy in favour of renewable energy alternatives. As the climate emergency bites it is critical that the limited amount of finance available for new energy projects should be focused on renewable energy schemes. Both the EIB, and the UK Government, should urgently rethink plans to support new nuclear projects. They are not the answer to delivering a ‘net zero’ carbon Europe as quickly as can be reached in the near future. Only wholesale renewable energy generation linked to low carbon renewable transport and heating solutions are deliverable and financially practical in the short period of required rapid carbon emission cuts available to us.”
CNFE President, Ulli Sima, said:
“It is unacceptable, that we still have to explain, over and over, that nuclear power is far from carbon neutral. Moreover, Europe would make itself dependent of foreign imports of uranium, while at the same time we have plenty of alternative energy sources within our own countries. Nuclear energy includes a high risk for the health of the present and future European population. We hope that the EIB understands that it is unacceptable that public money will be used for increasing the risk of a nuclear incident in Europe.”
Ends – for more information please contact Sean Morris, NFLA Secretary, on 00 44 (0)161 234 3244.
Notes for editors:
(3) See www.institutbiosphere.ch