Stand Up for Nuclear Paris 2020
The pronuclear citizens’ movement takes shape
The global pro-nuclear movement exists, we have seen it
This year, the Stand Up stretched through September and into mid-October. Mobilization actions to promote the social and environmental benefits of nuclear energy took place in 49 cities around the world, on all continents, including 9 online events.
This mobilization is a sign that a community born just a few years ago is growing and gaining self-awareness. This community comes together around the decisive role of nuclear in the fight against global warming and the phase-out of fossil-fueled energy, and the need to mobilize to make this reality known to as many people as possible.
Each year, the stakes get bigger: with each additional reactor shut down prematurely, with persistent indecision about many construction programs and the lack of appropriate support for nuclear power, humanity is increasing the cost and the scale of the challenges associated with the decarbonization of global energy.
The goal of the Stand Up is to reach out to the public and to remind observers and decision-makers that a pro-nuclear civil society exists. To remind them that the advantages of nuclear power cannot be ignored with regard to the imperatives of climate justice, environmental protection, the fight against fuel poverty, and the resilience of our societies in the face of the future exhaustion of fossil resources.
Strong momentum despite the pandemic
Among the many remarkable actions implemented by local associations relaying the initiative, some of them particularly caught our attention this year:
- The United States hosted the most events, with rallies held in 7 cities,
- Just behind, Italy stands out with 6 events, remarkable in view of the fact that the country does not have any active nuclear power plant,
- Germany organized a series of 5 events near its last nuclear power plants still in operation – besieged climate citadels,
- In Belgium, where the existing nuclear capacities will soon be replaced by state-subsidized gas-fired power stations, the movement rallied at the symbolic Atomium monument, and is already announcing another event in the spring,
- South Korea, subject to heavy health restrictions, innovated with 200 individual demonstrations!
A success against all odds is a great success!
On Sunday September 27 was held – and well held! – the second session of the Stand Up for Nuclear event in Paris, at the Place de La République, organized for the first time by Voices of Nuclear.
Anti-Covid measures reinforced only the previous day, a change of location requested by the prefecture just a few days before “D-Day,” discouraging weather conditions, a car-free day in Paris, organizing members become Covid contact cases confined to their homes, funding curtailment, etc. – our combat was not against preconceived ideas and cognitive bias alone ?. In spite of it all, participation was up sharply from last year, with peak attendance of around 150 people, almost 400 people estimated to have visited the event at some point during the day, and an average age as well as range of ages that reflected the spirit of this citizens’ initiative.
The Place de la République was stoked by four stands featuring information on climate, electricity production, radioactivity and “atomic art,” educational materials, rich discussions, songs sung in tune of course, and bananas… This continuous animation was punctuated by the addresses of our guest speakers.
None of them are leaders, lobbyists, or communicators in the nuclear industry. The diversity of their profiles and their views makes their contributions especially valuable. Each of them generously shared with us his or her thoughts about the role and the perception of nuclear power, as well as the reasons why he or she was addressing us:
- Gilles Babinet, Digital Champion and associate professor at Sciences Po: watch his speech
- Tristan Kamin, nuclear safety engineer and scientific and technical popularizer on Twitter: watch his speech
- Brice Lalonde, environmental activist for 50 years and former environmentalist party candidate for the French presidential election: watch his speech
- Zion Lights, President of Environmental Progress and Mothers for Nuclear UK: watch her speech
- Francois-Marie Bréon, researcher at the Laboratory of Climate and Environmental Sciences: watch his speech
- Jean-Marc Jancovici, president of The Shift Project and professor at Mines ParisTech: watch his speech
Last but not least, opening and closing the event:
From left to right and from top to bottom: Jean-Marc Jancovici, François-Marie Bréon, Brice Lalonde, Zion Lights, Tristan Kamin (on the right), Gilles Babinet, Myrto Tripathi, Jadwiga Najder
The Paris Stand Up took an important step this year by welcoming a circle of participants beyond Voices of Nuclear members, and by receiving public support from personalities from outside the nuclear sector.
The areas for improvement lie in our ability to truly mobilize employees in the sector, with the renewed collaboration of ARCICEN (the association of communities hosting French nuclear facilities) and the now-classic “tour de France” of nuclear sites by Philippe Hansen, which has been well-received but has not yet generated effective participation.
Unfortunately, we also did not receive media coverage that lived up to our expectations. In fact, despite a marked expression of interest ahead of the event, no significant media has as yet published an article on the event. We can only note that our educational and dialog approaches currently attract less attention than our “flashy” ones.
Looking forward to Standing Up for Nuclear again!
Election deadlines and major decision-making for the future of nuclear power in Europe are approaching, and next year’s event will have to shake things up – in terms of participation, in terms of noise, in terms of media coverage.
In addition, as concerns the French edition, the next mobilization should reflect the importance and presence of the nuclear sector in and for the regions of France as well as France’s special status vis-à-vis global nuclear power. We in France must match the performance of other countries where Stand Up for Nuclear gatherings are already held in several cities.
See you next year at the Stand Up for Nuclear 2021!