Nongovernmental organisation (NGO) Greenpeace Africa on Wednesday morning held a protest outside the Department of Energy (DoE), urging the government to abandon nuclear energy plans, and ramp up the deployment of renewable energies.
“No nuclear – phansi nuclear phansi!” emphasised some twenty protesters gathered peacefully outside the department.
Greenpeace handed over a petition calling on the government to publicly respond to its concerns on the social and economic risks of nuclear power.
About six weeks ago, the NGO presented its nuclear energy report to Energy Minister Dipuo Peters, which the organisation stated outlined the true cost of nuclear power as opposed to renewable energy sources. The Greenpeace report highlighted concerns with South Africa’s insistence on relying on nuclear technology that would lock the country into what it called an “expensive and outdated” energy future.
Minister Peters has not yet responded to Greenpeace. However, last week, she announced that a proposal on new nuclear would be presented to Cabinet soon, indicating that concerns on nuclear safety have been addressed.
“Fukushima forced governments around the globe to reassess their nuclear plans and the impact of nuclear energy plants on their people and their environment,” said Greenpeace Africa’s Ferrial Adam.
Following the Fukushima disaster in Japan, some countries shelved nuclear plans, and Germany, for example, committed to phasing out the use of nuclear power by 2022.
Greenpeace demanded that the South African government place a moratorium on all new nuclear power stations until the safety implications of Fukushima have been fully evaluated.
“The South African government owes its citizens an answer as to why it is choosing a dangerous and expensive solution, when it has an abundance of renewable energy sources, like solar,” affirmed Greenpeace.
"Nuclear energy is a dangerous distraction from the clean energy development needed to prevent catastrophic climate change. Nuclear power simply delivers too little, too late, and at too high a price for people and the environment," said Adam.
Greenpeace's reported entitled ‘Advanced Energy [R]evolution’ showed that almost half of the country's electricity can be produced from renewable sources by 2030, increasing to 94% by 2050.
"We need an Energy [R]evolution driven by the creation of green jobs. With decisive action and political leadership the government can secure the brighter future South Africans deserve. A future that is free of the threats posed by nuclear energy," concluded Adam.