An Asia Pacific Greens joint statement
The global impact of the Fukushima disaster highlights the responsibility of all nations to ensure the safety of citizens and protect our planet for future generations. We are all implicated in the nuclear supply chain, whether that be through uranium mining, refining, power generation, radioactive waste, nuclear weapons, or through complicity by not discouraging the practice of our trading partners.
Green Parties around the globe have grown from a platform of anti-nuclear and peace movements. The Global Greens Charter puts forward a political program to oppose any expansion of nuclear power and work to rapidly phase it out. The Global Greens’ founding values of social justice, nonviolence, ecological wisdom, sustainability, democracy and respect for diversity encourages a new pathway. This path is about “creating a world economy which aims to satisfy the needs of all, not the greed of a few; and enables those presently living to meet their own needs, without jeopardising the ability of future generations to meet theirs.” (Principle 5.3)
In recent years we have seen a ‘nuclear renaissance’ hijacking the discourse on climate change. It reflects the economies of greed and has placed undue pressure on the newly industrialized countries in the Asia Pacific region. The global nuclear industry’s claims are unfounded: nuclear power does not reduce carbon emissions, in fact the infrastructure necessary to create nuclear energy is a prodigious user of fossil fuel and coal; nuclear power is more expensive than green energy, and power shortages and price rises are acts of intimidation. In reality, we can achieve economic development with genuine quality of life through a sustainable smart green economy.
At this critical moment, we call upon the people of the Asia Pacific Greens region to:
March 11, 2013 marks the two-year anniversary of Japan’s earthquake, tsunami and subsequent Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant’s trip meltdown that released massive amounts of radiation. This caused 300,000 people to become displaced from their homes and hundreds of thousands of people are still exposed to the long-term radioactive contamination caused by the disaster. The Global Greens’ shared values of social justice, ecological wisdom and participatory democracy highlight ways to learn from the lessons of Fukushima.
Living in fear of radiation, Fukushima residents have lost their homes, their jobs, their businesses, their farms, their communities and a way of life they enjoyed. Key causes of the Fukushima accident include institutional failures of governments, regulators, and the nuclear industry who failed to acknowledge nuclear risks, failed to enforce appropriate nuclear safety standards, failed to protect the public during the emergency situation, and failed to ensure appropriate compensation for the victims.
Promoters of nuclear power argue that nuclear is the lowest cost energy choice, however monetarily Fukushima is estimated to cost Japan up to $250 billion US dollars over the next 10 years. Tokyo Electric Power Company’s (TEPCO) nationalisation in June 2012 means that ordinary Japanese people will now pay the bill for Fukushima. The utility’s demand on the state-backed Nuclear Damage Liability Facilitation Fund for compensation payments mounted to ¥3.24 trillion ($36.5bn US dollars) by December 2012. At the same time, the Japanese government injected ¥1 trillion (about $12.5bn at 2012 exchange rates) into the utility in May 2012 to save it from bankruptcy, which totalled an estimated ¥3.5trillion in public money to the utility since the Fukushima disaster began.
Nuclear power is expensive and requires public subsidies wherever it operates. With insurance companies unwilling to back nuclear energy, taxpayers foot the bill when things go wrong. This isn't a problem that just affects Japan. If there was a nuclear disaster at any one of the world's 436 reactors, the same story would play out. Taxpayers would pay the bulk of the costs.
Nuclear is not low cost for business either, (TEPCO) lost 94 percent in Tokyo trading since the March 2011 disaster, and may have to pay more than ¥10 trillion to decontaminate areas around the plant and compensate those affected by the disaster.
While nuclear advocates claim new reactors would not have the technical limitations of Chernobyl or be sited as dangerously as Fukushima, there will always be risks. The tsunami demonstrated that catastrophes are part of our uncertain future. As the negative impacts of dangerous climate change occur with greater frequency and intensity, we must learn not to increase risks on our well-being by naively assuming future stability and control-ability, but rather recognize the serious and global-reaching dangers inherent in nuclear power.
The disposal of nuclear materials is a global issue. Radiation fills oceans from which the livelihoods of communities depend, it contaminates the air we breathe, causing radioactive contamination to spread around the globe. We are complicit both in the creation of nuclear material and in the catastrophes they produce.
The Global Greens, particularly the Asia Pacific Greens Network (APGN), including three North East Asian nuclear giants - Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, absolutely reject nuclear for the safety of current and future generations. We call on all citizens to condemn the existence of dangerous nuclear material anywhere on our shared planet.
The Greens demand that dangerous nuclear power be phased out entirely and as soon as possible. Until such time when nuclear is phased out, the Greens propose a polluter pays policy. The companies that create nuclear risks must be made to pay for their failures, not the people who suffer from them. People must be the first priority, not the protection of industry.
The Greens call for learning from Fukushima and using this critical time to finally switch to a safe and affordable supply of electricity — renewable energy. Proven, robust and affordable renewable energy technology exists and is up to the task of replacing hazardous nuclear reactors. Over the last five years, 22 times more new power generating capacity based on wind and solar was built (281,000MW) compared to nuclear (11,750 MW). Wind and solar plants alone, built in just one single year of 2012, are capable of generating as much electricity as 20 large nuclear reactors.
With sincerest condolences to those living with the effects of radiation, and for those whose lives were forever changed by Fukushima let us learn and create a world free of nuclear hazards.