The UK is pursuing a policy of new nuclear build
The big divide: is ideology holding back greens from embracing nuclear power?
20th July, 2011
Once united in opposition, the environmental movement is now divided on nuclear power. Matilda Lee reports on why some greens say that anti-nuclear is just sentimentalism
They may have gone from dark green to glow-in-the-dark, but the environmentalists behind a series of well-publicised defections to the pro-nuclear camp have done more than just change their colours. They are forming a growing divide on an issue long central to the green cause.
Since the early days of the modern environmental movement, nuclear power has been considered dangerous, expensive as well as unnecessary- with most major green NGOs running long-standing and influential anti-nuclear campaigns, from Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth down to the single-issue Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament.
But now many of those same people- from Executive Director or Greenpeace UK, Stephen Tindale, to Guardian writer George Monbiot and activists and writers Mark Lynas and Stewart Brand among others- are arguing that nuclear, far from being ghastly, is green.
Whether grudgingly or wholeheartedly, they have turned the tables on this most green of green creeds. If we are really going to combat climate change, and at the same time fill the energy gap and meet national and European emissions targets, the argument goes, then nuclear power in the UK is inevitable, and yes, vital.
It is a debate is being played...
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