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G8 draft seeks more nuclear power use

01.01.70

By Thomas Catan in London
Published: March 15 2006 02:00 | Last updated: March 15 2006 02:00

The Group of Eight industrialised nations are poised to back a broad expansion of nuclear power and call for thousands of billions of dollars in new investment to boost oil and gas supply.

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A leaked copy of the G8's "Action Plan", intendedfor publication in St Petersburg on July 16, states:"We believe that the development of nuclear energy would promote global energy security."

The draft plan calls for the "development and introduction of innovative nuclear power systems with natural safety barriers" that can prevent nuclear material from being used to create weapons and meet environmental concerns.

The G8's strong backing for nuclear power was immediately welcomed by the industry, which has seen a revival of its fortunes in the two decades since the 1986 Chernobyl accident in Ukraine.

"For the nuclear industry this is very encouraging news," said Philip Dewhurst, chairman of Britain's Nuclear Industry Association.

But environmental groups sharply criticised the G8 plan, saying it represented a climbdown from the group's efforts to promote energy conservation and halt climate change at its last meeting in Gleneagles in July.

"It's just talking about supply, supply, and more supply," said Stephen Kretzmann, executive director Oil Change International, a US pressure group that has circulated the draft plan. "It doesn't set out the new vision [of energy efficiency] that certainly people are trying to talk about in this country."

The G8's draft plan cites estimates that investment of up to $17,000bn (9,700bn) will be needed by 2030 to meet rising energy demand and create a "shock-proof" system of global supply.

It calls for a sharp expansion of oil and gas production and refining and petrochemical production. It says that "clean coal" technologies should be introduced, including carbon capture and storage.

"We should start to think and act now on how to improve the global energy architecture . . . [to] preclude possible devastating conflicts driven by eventually disruptive competition for energy sources," the draft plan states.

Although the plan could change before July it shows the G8 is actively considering nuclear power as a way to help solve the world's energy problems.

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