Nuclear Europe?

We wrote earlier about how concern over climate change may lead to a nuclear-power revival in the U.S., despite longtime opposition and fear on many fronts.

The issue is unfolding similarly in Europe. Here’s a fascinating short article from Spiegel, via BusinessWeek:

Italy on Thursday said it would join a growing number of European countries returning to nuclear power in the face of rising energy prices and concerns about climate change. In a referendum in 1987, Italians voted to ban nuclear power and deactivate the country’s reactors. But now the country says it wants to start building nuclear power plants again before the end of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi‘s term, with the first construction scheduled to begin by 2013.

The article cites Giuseppe Onufio, director of Greenpeace Italy, calling this announcement a “declaration of war.” Interestingly, the U.S. nuclear movement has gotten a big boost from the conversation of Patrick Moore, a co-founder of Greenpeace International, who used to oppose nuclear power but is now an ardent advocate.

The Spiegel article also has an interesting take on Germany’s nuclear position:

Speaking on Thursday at a national Catholic conference in the city of Osnabrück, Merkel said Germany’s plan to abandon nuclear power “didn’t make sense,” especially as a country “with the safest nuclear power plants.” She said the country would be making a “laughing stock” of itself if it abandoned the production of nuclear power for the sake of a good conscience only to turn around and import nuclear energy from other countries.

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  1. CabinBoy says:

    There seems to be a misconception that before we can move forward with plans to increase our nuclear capacity we must first convince the environmentalists. With all the press coverage, it can be easy to forget that anti-nuclear environmental activists are a very small minority of the country, and we don’t actually have to let them set policy. :)

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