Nomination of Elisabeth Borne – our reaction

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Published on 17/07/2019

Voices of Nuclear welcomes the appointment of Elisabeth Borne, a public figure who has not openly criticized nuclear energy, as French environment/energy minister

Nuclear power represents 50% of Europe’s carbon-free electricity and over 70% of France’s.

It is an essential response to the most important environmental challenge we face, as French citizens, citizens of the world and, more broadly, representatives of the human race. IPCC climate scientists as well as international energy agencies are unanimous on this subject.

Its overall environmental footprint is also one of the smallest of all types of energy production, including in production of electricity – electricity which is expected to be one of the main vectors of the energy transition in transport and construction, in addition to continuing to supply power for light, electrical appliances, digital services and many industrial processes.

French President Emmanuel Macron has made the fight against climate change one of the pillars of his policy and the action of France on the international stage, associating with it the imprint of rationalism and humanism of which France and its leaders are still seen as guarantors. In a world at peace, but for how long?

The scope of the Ministry of Ecological and Solidarity Transition covers sustainable development, energy, climate, infrastructure, the sea, transport, land use planning, housing, nature, risk prevention and civil aviation.

Following on from their predecessors, the ministers appointed previously under the current presidency, Mr Hulot and Mr de Rugy, adopted positions with regard to nuclear energy at best neutral – acting, for example, during European negotiations on the subject as if they were not involved – and at worst unfavorable, including via the public policies they were responsible for executing.

Thanks to its nuclear sector, the economic and climate performance of France for electricity production is remarkable.

Attacks against nuclear power conducted by previous ministers contradicted the stated desire to reduce CO2 emissions. The planned closure of the Fessenheim nuclear power plant is an emblematic example, given that the plant’s output will be replaced with additional generation from German coal-fired stations that already emit large quantities of CO2. The significant decline projected in the share of nuclear power in the French electricity mix will be another example, since it will have to be offset by imported gas, again causing a significant increase in emissions of CO2.

As citizens of France – which we are as much as any other Frenchmen – we, workers and supporters of the nuclear industry, appreciate that the newly appointed environment/energy minister, Elisabeth Borne, does not seem a priori committed to fighting nuclear energy. We sincerely hope that she will take it to heart, as much as possible, to seek the interest of the planet and of France in actions within all the portfolios under her responsibility.

The first deadline for the Paris Agreement on climate is 2020.

That is only 6 months from now.

All possible leverage to reach the Paris goals must be used, especially that provided by science and technology associated with intelligence and collective benevolence.

Voices of Nuclear