Switzerland says goodbye to nuclear power

On 28 September, 2011, Switzerland joined the countries that made decisions to abandon completely nuclear power as energy generating source. The Ständerat - one of the two chambers of the Swiss parliament - has approved a number of decisions previously taken both by the Government and the Nationalrat - the other parliament chamber.

NPP in Gessen, SwitzerlandAccording to these decisions, construction of new nuclear power stations in Switzerland is prohibited. Also, prohibited is prolongation of operation time for existing NPPs. The Swiss Government gets the assignment to create the programme of decommissioning, in the shortest possible terms, the existing NPPs, to work out the energy strategy to secure energy needs of Swiss economy in the new situation, and to propose necessary amendments to the Swiss legislation. The decisions also urge the government to enhance support to renewable energy sources and energy efficiency.

This decision was not easy for Switzerland. This country has no fossil fuels, and limited resources of wind and hydro energy. Presently, nuclear power makes over 40 % in the national energy mix. Both people and politicians used to be quite tolerant to the four NPPs operating on the Swiss territory.

However, the situation drastically changed after the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe in Japan in March this year. The electorate's perception of nuclear power became very negative. This forced many pro-nuclear politicians to change their position to the opposite ones. As a result, nuclear lobby lost its majority in the Swiss parliament, and the historical decisions were made by overwhelming majority.

Caroline Beglinger, he head of the Swiss Alliance of environmental NGOs, comments: "This is a historical day. The Swiss Government and the two Chambers of the Parliament decided to focus on new energy politics based on renewable energy and energy efficiency and to abandon nuclear power. It is a great day for all environmental activists, who fought the last 40 years against nuclear power plants".

As for Russia, here NPPs produce only 12 % of electricity, and make only 4 % in the total energy mix. Meanwhile, the Russian energy-saving potential is over 40 %. Less than 10 % of population support development of nuclear power in this country.

The Russian Socio-Ecological Union is firmly opposed to nuclear power. In its Position on climate change and energy policy RSEU consistently opposes plans for new construction and extension of operation time for existing nuclear reactors, and calls for their gradual decomissioning.

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