Former Norwegian prime minister Gro Harlem Brundtland, the winner of the first Tang Prize in Sustainable Development, on Friday said that nuclear power is not her preferred source of new energy due to the complexities involved.
Brundtland, who chaired the World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED) from 1984 to 1987, said the assessment and analysis of nuclear energy was one of the most difficult issues to agree on among the members of the commission.
“In the end, having analyzed and described the risks and potential of nuclear energy, we agreed on a conclusion that nuclear energy in the future is only sustainable and acceptable if the still-unsolved problems with regard to storage of the waste have been solved,” she said at a press conference in Taipei in response to questions on her views about Taiwan’s nuclear controversy.
Photo: Fang Pin-chao, Taipei Times
Brundtland said that nuclear power needs to be made safer because it still accounts for about 20 percent of the energy use in the world.
It means that any government responsible for nuclear energy, or planning to adopt nuclear energy, has to take that responsibility seriously, she said.
Given that countries cannot immediately stop using nuclear power, they are advised to move toward solar energy, renewable energy and other solutions while gradually reducing the use of fossil fuels, Brundtland said.
She said that although nuclear power could become safer in the future, it is not her “preferred new energy source” because she thinks it entails too many complexities.
The question was raised at the press conference in view of an ongoing controversy about the construction of the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant in New Taipei City’s Gongliao District (貢寮) amid public concerns over safety.
The Fourth Nuclear Power Plant project began in 1999 and is near completion, but the fuel rods have not yet been installed due to widespread opposition to nuclear power. The plant is located in New Taipei City, Taiwan’s most populous municipality.
Meanwhile, when speaking at a forum at Greater Kaohsiung’s National Sun Yat-sen University on Wednesday as part of a week of lectures and other activities in celebration of the first Tang Prize, she said the world is facing the challenge of transforming itself into a green economy.
However, she said there was a problem with tax systems, saying that the richest should be more heavily taxed and that subsidies for chemical fuels should be scrapped.
She said Taiwan has a big problem of low taxation and urged the implementation of a more reasonable tax system.
Brundtland, the “godmother of sustainable development,” was awarded the first Tang Prize in Sustainable Development on Thursday for her work in the sector.
The 1987 “Brundtland Report” by the WCED laid the groundwork for the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, which produced a global action plan for sustainable development known as Agenda 21 and initiated the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the lead-up to the 1997 Kyoto Protocol.
The report defined the term “sustainable development” as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”
The concept supports economic and social development, while highlighting the importance of protecting the environment and natural resources.
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