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Jun 30, 2011

Creating a Nuclear Power Free Asia Pacific

by PhilLee — last modified Jun 30, 2011 02:11 PM
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Members of Friends of the Earth Asia Pacific, currently holding their annual general meeting in Seoul, South Korea, have issued a declaration for a nuclear free future.

Several months after the Fukushima nuclear disaster, we are beginning to get a sense of the likely long-term impacts.

Radiation has spread across much of the northern hemisphere and parts of the southern hemisphere. Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency estimates the radioactive release at 770,000 terabecquerels in the first week of the crisis. Total radiation releases will probably fall somewhere between 10−40% of those from the 1986 Chernobyl disaster. Radiation releases have not been stopped and will continue for some months.

The long-term cancer death toll will probably be somewhere between several hundred and several thousand. For comparison, a reasonable estimate of the Chernobyl death toll is 30,000.

Allowable radiation dose limits in Japan have been thrown out the window, both for emergency workers and for the general public.

Estimates of the economic costs of the disaster range from $50 billion to $130 billion − but it wouldn't be surprising if the true costs are considerably greater.

Between 100,000 and 150,000 people cannot return to their homes because of radioactive contamination. Some may be able to return before the end of this year but permanent relocation is a likely outcome for those who lived in the most contaminated regions. Legal and political battles will take decades to play out.

Globally, the nuclear power 'renaissance' has taken a big hit. Germany, Italy and Switzerland have decided to abandon nuclear power in favour of renewable energy sources. Plans to introduce or expand nuclear power in many other countries have taken a big backwards step.

Nuclear power has no part in building a climate-friendly and sustainable future.

A large and growing number of scientific studies have detailed the wide range of energy supply and energy efficiency options that can be deployed to meet energy demand while sharply reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The claim that nuclear power is a necessary or desirable part of the fight against climate change must be rejected. Nuclear power is at most a very partial and problematic response and presents unresolved and unacceptable problems.

Uranium is the first link in the toxic nuclear fuel chain, and is the primary source of radioactive materials used in nuclear reactors and nuclear weapons. Many uranium mines have had serious adverse impacts on the environment and the communities that live near them.

Nuclear power plants around the world have already experienced many problems caused by natural and man-made disasters which are likely to become more frequent and more severe as a result of climate change − as seen in Japan. The nuclear industry has been very slow to address these problems. Meanwhile the nuclear power industry continues to survive because of huge taxpayer subsidies.

Hazardous radioactive wastes are generated at every stage of the nuclear fuel cycle. There is not a single permanent repository for spent fuel or high-level nuclear waste anywhere in the world.

In addition to the risk of accidents, nuclear power reactors are vulnerable to disasters from sabotage, terrorism, or the use of conventional forces to attack nuclear facilities during war.

Nuclear power is the one and only energy source with a direct and repeatedly-demonstrated connection to the proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction. Doubling nuclear output by the middle of the century would require the construction of 800-900 reactors to replace most of the existing cohort of reactors and to build as many again. These reactors would produce over one million tonnes of nuclear waste (in the form of spent fuel) containing enough plutonium to build over one million nuclear weapons.

These are some of the very clear reasons why we MUST reject the nuclear industry.

A clean energy future, based primarily on renewable energy and energy efficiency and conservation measures, is viable, safe and affordable.

Friends of the Earth Asia Pacific is calling for Government's in our region like Korea, Japan, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Australia to transition into nuclear free societies.

Friends of the Earth Asia Pacific region will pursue a nuclear free world as a region and in our individual countries.

We urge the citizens of Asian Pacific region to join us in taking action to build a nuclear free world.

Friends of the Earth Asia Pacific
Thursday 30 June 2011
Seoul, Korea

Jun 21, 2011

Solidarity for Greenpeace Arctic activists

by PhilLee — last modified Jun 21, 2011 11:40 AM

On Friday 17 June, 2011, Kumi Naidoo, the head of Greenpeace international, and fellow activist Ulvar Arnkvaern, were arrested as he climbed an Arctic oil rig operated by Cairn Energy. He was following in the footsteps of 20 other Greenpeace activists who had gone before him in the past two weeks.

Kumi and Ulvar climbed the oil rig, situated 120 km off Greenland coast line, with the aim of handing over a petition signed by 50,000 people from all over the world demanding Cairn publish their oil spill response plan.

They wanted to personally call on Cairn to leave the Arctic.

Speaking moments prior to his arrest Kumi said:

"I did this because Arctic oil drilling is one of the defining environmental battles of our age. I'm an African but I care deeply about what’s happening up here. The rapidly melting cap of Arctic sea ice is a grave warning to all of us."


Friends of the Earth International stands in solidarity with Kumi Naidoo and all the activists arrested during the action. We extend our solidarity to all those who take a stand against against unsustainable practices. We support the right of local communities to reject and resist extractive industry operations that threaten their health and livelihoods. 

 

We challenge the world's governments to redirect their support towards economic alternatives that could take us towards equitable and sustainable societies. At the same time, we call upon people everywhere to think critically and creatively about what they really need to consume and produce.

 

Find out more about our work on resisting mining, oil and gas.

Jun 20, 2011

Japan earthquake and tsunami appeal update

by PhilLee — last modified Jun 20, 2011 03:38 PM
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Just over three months since the earthquake and tsunami that rocked Japan, our group in the country have been reporting back on how the money you donated has been spent.

Peace Boat would like to express our appreciation for the donation of JPY 938,000 received from Friends of the Earth International for its Earthquake & Tsunami Relief Efforts in the city of Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture.

The donation has been utilized to support our purchase of mud cleaning equipment for our volunteer Tsunami Mud & Small Debris Clearance initiative. Since March 16, this project has resulted in the clearance of over 500 homes and other buildings, including schools, retirement homes and shops, and miles of streets and drains.

 

The activity has directly impacted over 2500 people (those whose home and businesses were cleared) and thousands more in the wider community who have benefited from the improved environment and the re-opening of local shops and public buildings.

Speaking about the work of Peace Boat, local resident Sakuma Ikuko said:

"I have nightmares about the tsunami every night. I get swallowed up by the waves and the moment that I think I’m going to die, I wake up. When I do wake up, all I see out of the window are the endless mountains of debris. A darkness was beginning to consume me and I didn’t think I could make it through. But then, I saw the young Peace Boat volunteers, with their boundless energy, partaking in sludge and debris removal. They gave me courage and the drive not to give up. That is what Peace Boat gave me."

 

Find out more about the recovery work

Peace Boat Japan
The Japan Chernobyl Foundation

Jun 13, 2011

YFOE is joining the worldwide actions against nuclear power

by PhilLee — last modified Jun 13, 2011 09:46 PM
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On 11th June 2011, 3 months after the tsunami in Japan, the Fukushima power plant hasn’t been fixed and there is still 90,000 people living in temporary shelters. Marco Cadena from Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland, blogs from the UN climate talks in Bonn.

yfoee action bonnOrganisations around the world joined the day of action, and there were thousands of people on the streets of Tokyo and many more solidarity actions around the world.

 

Participants at Young Friends of the Earth Europe climate justice seminar also took action in Bonn during the UN climate talks. The seminar’s aim is to inform and inspire youth around Europe about the issues surrounding the efforts to tackle climate change.

Part of the issues in the big web of problems is false solutions. Many proposals are out there that are trying to solve the climate crisis but for different reasons many of them have not proven, and in some cases there is the possibility that they would cause more damage than help.

One of the false solutions is nuclear energy

Rich countries are using the argument that if we need to switch to non-emitting energy sources, nuclear is the only way to keep providing the electricity needed for our societies. However, events like the recent disaster in Japan show how vulnerable and fragile is the security of nuclear energy.

Even without earthquakes, nuclear waste has incredibly long decay time, meaning that it will be very difficult for future societies to deal with nuclear waste. We just simply don’t know how much trouble we cause in a long run.

There are good solutions that sometimes get ignored by the nuclear and oil lobby. Renewable energy, such as wind and solar power are clean, harmless and infinite source of energy that could solve the current crisis if we act quickly.

However, rich countries are already consuming way too much energy and natural resources with excessive and irresponsible lifestyle. Developed countries need to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions, their natural resource consumption, and their energy consumption.

Instead of emphasising on promoting business as usual, it is time for people, the private sector and governments to realise that we need a great change in a way we live and the way we treat our planet.

We have only one planet we share amongst all living things, and we cannot gamble with false solutions that could threaten our entire survival.

yfoee action no nukesSolidarity action

The solidarity action on 11th June by participants on the YFOE climate justice seminar sends the message to governments that young people demand true solutions to the climate crisis.

Investing in nuclear is essentially a gamble with the future and with the lives of young people, who are representing the next generation. They are the most vulnerable, as they will have to deal with the problems what nuclear power will cause in few decades.

YFOEE also took action in December, during the COP16 Climate Talks in Cancun.

New era of energy use

We do have the technology and knowledge to leave behind the old fossil and nuclear age and shift it into a renewable age, where people live in harmony with nature and each other.

There is a long and difficult way to get there, as governments and companies are not necessarily willing to share these technologies with vulnerable countries.

Therefore, youth around the world need to be actively involved in all these debates, and information and knowledge sharing is essential for their empowerment. In fact, it’s the first step on the way of forming active networks, where people connect and self organise in order to take active role in shaping our and the planet’s future.

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