Harvie and Monbiot to go head to head on nuclear

For immediate release 1 April 2011

The Scottish Greens' co-convenor Patrick Harvie will tomorrow (2 April) debate the issue of nuclear power with George Monbiot, one of Britain's leading commentators on environmental issues. The event, at Glasgow's Citizen's Theatre, is part of the Glasgow International Comedy Festival.

Greens remain opposed to new nuclear power and the extension of the operating life of Scotland's existing plants, on grounds that include cost, safety, waste, carbon emissions, and unsustainability for the long term.

Patrick Harvie said:

"George Monbiot has been a stalwart of the environment movement for decades now, but in recent weeks he's lost the plot on nuclear. Even before Fukushima we knew that nuclear is neither safe nor reliable, just from the track record of leaks and unplanned shutdowns in Scotland. For George to say Fukushima has convinced him to support nuclear is like saying the Titanic disaster persuaded him not to worry about icebergs.

"It's not economic, either: the half a trillion pounds that Lib Dem and Tory Ministers currently expect to be spent on new nuclear power could fund the expansion in renewables which the world really needs. Cheap high quality uranium is running out, just like the cheap accessible oil, while the nuclear waste will be with us for generations.

"Finally, and this is the central flaw in George's arguments, nuclear power is not even carbon-free once you take account of plant construction plus the uranium mining and milling processes. It's way more carbon intensive than renewables, and could easily be worse for the climate than burning gas.

"Scotland's got the renewable capacity out there to meet our own needs almost six times over, and there's no way we should be going back down the nuclear dead end. I'm afraid that George is setting himself up for a fall if he thinks that Scotland - or the green movment - is about to go nuclear."

On emissions and long term sustainability, see this paper from Storm and Smith.

On cost, the UK Government's plans are for at least 10 plants costing