Gormley 'open' to nuclear debate

 

The use of nuclear power should be open for debate, Minister for the Environment John Gormley told a climate change forum in Dublin today.

“The technologies being developed, which people claim are 100 per cent safe, are still in their infancy," he said.

“I’ve seen presentations on chlorine fluoride reactors and on pebble bed technology but problems continue even though they say they are addressing the waste problem.”

“I remain to be convinced but I’m not closing the door…I do think we have to have a continued debate on those issues,” he said.

Mr Gormley told the forum, entitled W hat is at stake in Copenhagen?, that he felt a fully-fledged treaty is unlikely to be achieved at the climate conference in Denmark next month.

“I believe we are now looking at the possibility of a politically binding agreement rather than a legally binding treaty," he said. "It is disappointing and in my view it flies in the face of the fact that we are all too quickly approaching a point where the impact of climate change will become significantly more challenging and cost a lot more to address."

Environment Protection Agency (EPA) director general Mary Kelly said time is of the essence when dealing with the issue of carbon emissions. She said Ireland is projected to exceed its 2020 emission target by almost three per cent even if all current measures reach their goal.

Some 104 industries in Ireland are covered by the European Union’s Emission Trading Scheme (ETS) and year-on-year these have seen reduction in emissions. However, emissions in the non-ETS sector are more difficult to reduce she said in her presentation.

With agriculture and transport accounting for 70 per cent of Ireland’s non-ETS emissions, she said there is a need to look at different measures including congestion charges.

She said transport demand should be decoupled from economic activity and warned of the dangers of “depending on a recession to cover our international obligations.”