03 Feb

Nuclear Power? No thanks

"Nuclear power? no thanks!" People could read stickers, posters, batches and patches with this catchy slogan not so long ago. A young student from Denmark drew an orange, laughing sun in the mid-1970s and, with these few words, started a movement that is still considered a clear statement against nuclear energy today.

The peaceful resistance against the Zwentendorf nuclear power plant with the occupation of the Hainburger-Au in 1984 became a synonym and milestone for the Austrian anti-nuclear energy movement. After intensive debates and a subsequent referendum, the Zwentendorf nuclear power plant was never operational.

We have consciously decided and fought against the construction and operation of nuclear power plants. And that is a good thing because, at the latest after the power plant disasters in Chernobyl in Russia in 1986 or Fukushima in Japan in 2011, the world became aware of how dangerous the operation of nuclear power plants is. Not to mention that humanity still does not have the slightest idea what to do with nuclear waste. 

And now this! The EU Commission has decided to classify nuclear power and natural gas as "climate-friendly". The reason given is that nuclear power plants do not blow climate-damaging CO2 into the air and can therefore be considered "sustainable". Suppose one follows the intentions of the Union a little more closely. In that case, it is about the so-called taxonomy, a classification system of the EU for evaluating the environmental sustainability of economic activities. The plan is to raise funds for the "sustainable transformation of Europe". By 2050, around 350 billion euros per year are to come in from private investments to implement the climate goals. The goal is laudable by all means. However, the end in no way justifies the means. 

Whether the countries of the European Community draw their electricity from gas, wind, sun, coal, or even nuclear energy is up to each individual. The aim is to make investments in nuclear power plants, including repayment periods and modalities, more attractive and decorate everything on top with a sustainability label. Some European countries, especially those with many nuclear power plants (NPPs), such as France, clearly favour atomic power.

Austria - across all political camps - has been highly negative since this controversial decision by the Commission. "Nuclear power is outdated, expensive and unsustainable" is how the Federal Minister for Climate Protection, Environment and Energy, Leonore Gewessler, sums it up. Austria plans to appeal against the Commission's decision.