Urges G8 To Back Solar Power, Not Oil Or Nuclear
By Philip Thornton
29 April, 2006
Agence France Presse
Former Soviet President Mikhail
Gorbachev urged the world's biggest industrialized nations to set up
a 50-billion-dollar (44-billion-euro) fund to support solar power, warning
that oil or nuclear energy were not viable energy sources for the future.
Gorbachev -- who chairs an environmental thinktank, Green Cross International
-- called on leaders of the Group of Eight (G8) industrialized nations
to invest in renewable energy sources, in a statement marking the 20th
anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.
As leader of the Soviet Union
in 1986, Gorbachev led the immediate response to the world's worst nuclear
disaster, which led to at least 4,000 deaths and sent a radioactive
cloud over parts of Europe.
The Green Cross proposals
were contained in a letter sent to the leaders of the Group of Eight
industrialized nations who are due to meet in Russia in July. Some of
the proposals were reported last week in the Financial Times.
"This idea reflects
our vision of a way of helping the energy-impoverished in the developing
world, while creating concentrations of solar energy in cities that
could be used to prevent blackouts," Gorbachev said.
Solar energy would also "lower
electricity bills, and would provide a source in the future for generating
renewable hydrogen fuels," he added.
"The fund could easily
be raised by cutting subsidies for fossil fuels like oil and coal."
Rising oil prices and supply
concerns, as well as the growing need to combat global warming caused
by greenhouse gas emissions, have raised the profile and economic viability
of some renewable energy sources.
Those concerns have also
sparked renewed interest in nuclear power as a source of climate-friendly
The debate has been amplified
by the need for some European countries to plan soon for the replacement
of earlier generations of nuclear power stations that are due to come
to the end of their lifespan in the next two decades.
But Gorbachev has said that
nuclear power "doesn't add up economically, environmentally or
"Nuclear power is neither
the answer to modern energy problems nor a panacea for climate change
challenges," he claimed.
Green Cross said nuclear
technology requires huge amounts of initial capital, while decommissioning
plants is hugely expensive and costs continue to be incurred long after
a nuclear power station is closed.
Direct subsidies to nuclear
energy in the United States totalled 115 billion dollars between 1947
and 1999 with a further 145 billion dollars in indirect subsidies, according
to the non-governmental agency.
It said they dwarfed those
spent on solar or wind power.
The G8 brings together Britain,
Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States.
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