Green NGO Urges Southeast Asian Countries to Embrace Sustainable Energy

It’s been a year since the tsunami that devastated parts of Japan took place. The natural disaster then triggered off a major nuclear accident at the Fukushima Nuclear Plant, reigniting the debate on the safety of nuclear energy.

Now, the international green NGO Greenpeace has called on ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) governments to put into practice the lessons learned with Fukushima and abandon their nuclear plans. The NGO said countries should revamp their existing energy policies in favor of measures that promote energy efficiency and more alternative energy.

Based on the findings of the newly released report Lessons from Fukushima, Greenpeace said that Fukushima became a bigger disaster not because of forces of nature, but because of the past and tragic predisposition of industry and government regulators to secure the interests of the nuclear industry, instead of ensuring public welfare and safety.

The NGO warns that such a disaster could be repeated at any nuclear plant in the world, and that major meltdowns have taken place every decade for the last 50 years that nuclear plants have been around, which contradicts assurances by the industry that such accidents have low probability.

"We invite all citizens of ASEAN member states to join Greenpeace in delivering a strong call to action to our ASEAN leaders to learn from the lessons of Fukushima. We call on our governments to drop current and future plans to develop nuclear and instead focus public resources in enabling the rapid uptake of this region's abundant clean, safe, renewable energy resources, and the adoption of energy efficiency measures," said Francis Dela Cruz, a campaigner for Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

Greenpeace has launched a petition asking ASEAN to divert from the nuclear path it laid down in the Treaty of Bangkok and repeal the nuclear development provision in the ASEAN Energy Cooperation Plan 2010-2015. Last Friday the organization made the rounds of ASEAN members' embassies with the Call-to-Action, and will deliver the petition to ASEAN Heads of States at the ASEAN Summit in Cambodia at the end of March.

The organization warns that although nuclear plans have been delayed in the Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand, largely due to the huge public opposition following Fukushima, there is still a strong pro-nuclear industry lobby of ASEAN leaders.

"We should have learned by now, Fukushima should be the last meltdown," said Dela Cruz. "The Fukushima disaster was ultimately caused by the Japanese authorities choosing to ignore risks and making business a higher priority than safety. Nuclear energy is inherently unsafe. By simply keeping the nuclear power option open, ASEAN leaders are distracted from implementing safe and clean energy solutions."

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