Nuclear energy and sustainable development
- Parliamentary Assembly
debate on 25 June 2009 (25th Sitting) (see Doc. 11914, report of the Committee on the Environment, Agriculture
and Local and Regional Affairs, rapporteur: Mr Etherington; and Doc. 11961, opinion of the Committee on Economic Affairs and Development,
rapporteur: Mrs Lilliehöök). Text adopted
by the Assembly on 25 June 2009 (25th Sitting).
generation has long been very controversial and different countries
have adopted widely differing policies in their approach to the
subject. In this context, the Parliamentary Assembly recalls its Resolution 1435 (2005)
on energy systems and the environment and its Resolution 1588 (2007)
on radioactive waste and protection of the environment.
2 Today, nuclear energy represents 17% of electricity generation
worldwide. Countries like Finland, France, Russia, China, India,
the Republic of Korea, the United States of America and Japan have
stated their intention to build or are already building new nuclear
power plants. For example, by 2030, nuclear energy may become the
major source of energy in Japan, supplying over 40% of the country’s
3 The Assembly notes that several Council of Europe member states
(Poland, in co-operation with the Baltic states, Turkey, the United
Kingdom, Italy, the Netherlands and Germany), as well as countries
in the Asia-Pacific region, are considering developing or continuing
civil nuclear industries, possibly by extending the lifespan of
the power plants already in existence without construction of new
4 Some European countries hit by the energy crisis triggered
in January 2009, when Russia’s gas supply to the rest of Europe
was stopped, have decided to review their energy policy, with the
nuclear industry being given a fresh chance.
5 The Assembly is of the opinion that nuclear energy could help
to attain the goals of the United Nations Framework Convention on
Climate Change (UNFCCC) and especially the Kyoto Protocol because
its use permits a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared
to the burning of fossil fuels.
6 However, the Assembly stresses that nuclear energy cannot
be considered “sustainable”, since resources of uranium are finite
and at best only available in the medium term. Paramount efforts
are needed to fully develop all forms of renewable energy and energy
saving, which will be needed when fuel sources for fossil and nuclear
energy are depleted.
7 Moreover, in the long term, the nuclear industry still has
to solve the problem of the safe, long-term disposal of radioactive
8 The Assembly is therefore of the opinion that the international
community has to find effective solutions to three inter-related
tasks: energy security, economic growth and environmental protection.
9 It underlines, however, that nuclear industry has a high potential
for developing research and development in the field of new technologies
and can play an important role in reducing the effects of poverty and
ensuring long-term energy sustainability in developing countries.
It underlines, however, that the development and utilisation of
the nuclear industry in those countries should also include the
development of energy infrastructure and staff training.
10 The Assembly is of the opinion that nuclear energy should
be underpinned by a sound system for ensuring the security and safety
of nuclear materials and facilities.
11 The Assembly wishes to stress that no country in the world
can act absolutely independently. It also notes that the energy
market has become more global and more open and that existing practices
will be obsolete.
12 The Assembly is of the opinion that these changes imply drawing
up a set of new rules governing the energy market, in order to ensure
the security and safety of the population.
13 The Assembly stresses that it is very important to create
open, transparent and equal conditions for countries to access the
market of goods and services offered by the world nuclear energy
sector but to ensure at the same time the safety and the security
of nuclear energy.
14 Public opinion is of the utmost importance regarding civil
nuclear programmes. Citizens must have access to transparent information
in order to fully understand the nuclear electricity generating
process and especially the safety measures linked to this process.
15 Large-scale nuclear energy development throughout the world
involves more and more countries having access to nuclear technologies,
materials and equipment. The international community is facing issues
related to nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear and environmental
safety. Therefore, countries with developed nuclear industries should
pool their efforts in order to provide assistance to the countries
interested in developing nuclear energy and any initiative in this
direction should have the support of the international community.
16 A major step towards achieving such goals would be the development
of an international infrastructure for nuclear energy, based on
broader international co-operation and on the active participation
of all the countries concerned, for example through the creation
of international nuclear fuel recycling centres (uranium enrichment,
managing of spent nuclear fuel and personnel training) under the
supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
The Assembly therefore invites Council of Europe member states
and non-member states to:
the framework of their policies for diversifying energy sources,
take nuclear energy into account as an option for contributing towards
the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and global warming;
17.2 increase international co-operation by adapting old habits
based on secrecy to the new world realities, especially to globalisation,
by promoting openness in the civil nuclear industry;
17.3 strongly support research and development in the field
of nuclear technologies, both in the branch of effective energy
production and in the management of nuclear waste and effectively
implementing the results of that research;
17.4 promote policies of transparency in all the stages of
electricity production by the nuclear industry;
17.5 take measures in order to widely inform civil society
on all aspects of nuclear energy;
17.6 take speedy and concrete steps towards solving the problems
of nuclear waste;
17.7 take all necessary measures to lay the foundations for
a global nuclear energy infrastructure, including the establishment
of international nuclear fuel recycling centres under the supervision
of the International Atomic Energy Agency;
17.8 review the rules governing the nuclear energy market.
The Assembly also recommends that the existing international
organisations concerned, in particular the IAEA and the Nuclear
Energy Agency (NEA) of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation
and Development (OECD):
with clarity which technologies can be used for the construction
of new power plants;
18.2 ensure strict observance of the safety rules by the countries
lacking experience with the nuclear industry;
18.3 contribute to staff training and to monitoring of the
entire process of nuclear energy production in these countries,
especially in terms of compliance with nuclear safety rules.
19 Finally, the Assembly decides to organise parliamentary debates
on the future of nuclear energy in order to bring together all the
different points of view on the topic, which may vary considerably
from one country to another.