Tang Prize laureate not keen on nuclear energy

2014/09/22 18:12:00
Tang Prize laureate not keen on nuclear energy

Taipei, Sept. 19 (CNA) Former Norwegian Prime Minister Gro Harlem Brundtland, the winner of the first Tang Prize in Sustainable Development, said Friday 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 press conference in Taipei, in response to questions on her views about Taiwan's nuclear controversy.

Brundtland said that nuclear power needs to be made safer because it still accounts for around 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 has too many complexities.

The question was raised at the press conference in view of an ongoing controversy in which Taiwan was forced to abandon construction of its fourth nuclear power plant 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 the use of nuclear power. The plant is located in New Taipei, Taiwan's most populous municipality.

Brundtland, the "godmother of sustainable development," was awarded the first Tang Prize in Sustainable Development 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 United Nations 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 also highlighting the importance of protecting the environment and natural resources.

The Tang Prize was established in 2012 by Taiwanese entrepreneur Samuel Yin to honor leading lights from around the world in four fields: sustainable development, biopharmaceutical science, sinology and rule of law.

Winners of the award are selected by panels of judges convened by Academia Sinica, Taiwan's top research institute. The panels comprise prominent researchers and scholars from Taiwan and abroad, including Nobel laureates.

(By Jeffrey Wu)
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