The Fukushima nuclear disaster is a critical moment in the history of energy policy.
Warning about the dangers of nuclear power was a driving force in the founding of the green movements worldwide. For the Greens in Germany, phasing out nuclear power has been one of the party's goals since its inception. With the "nuclear consensus" in 2000/2001, we Greens – in government for the first time – secured a political commitment to phase out nuclear power and impose restrictions on the hitherto unlimited nuclear power plant lifetimes.
The Fukushima nuclear disaster is therefore a crucial moment for us Greens as well. The message is clear: we must phase out nuclear power as soon as possible, and that means even more quickly than the timetable envisaged as part of the SPD-Green nuclear phase-out. By contrast, the CDU/CSU-FDP Government has made a momentous error by extending the lifetimes of Germany's nuclear power plants. This decision must be reversed – and we must now speed up the process of restructuring our energy industry.
The Greens' aim is to put an end to the nuclear age in Germany once and for all during the next legislative term. This is achievable if swift action is taken now to establish the requisite legal and financial conditions. First and foremost, that means faster expansion of renewable energies, investment in energy efficiency, energy saving and energy storage, and the modernisation of power grids. Every day of hesitation and delay is another day lost for the accelerated energy turnaround that is needed and the fastest possible phase-out of nuclear power.
Germany's nuclear power plants are not as safe as their reputation. Accidents like the one at Krümmel in 2009 and obvious technical deficits, especially in the older plants, are bound to have consequences. The new and more stringent Nuclear Regulations (Kerntechnisches Regelwerk – KTR) require all reactors to undergo a safety check. Reactors such as Biblis, Neckarwestheim, Brunsbüttel and Krümmel, whose increased risk potential is well-known, should no longer form part of our electricity grid.
Threat of terrorism
After the 9/11 attacks, there is a real risk of a targeted terrorist attack on a nuclear power plant. Germany's nuclear power plants have no protection against such an attack. Indeed, four of the plants would not even withstand a light aircraft collision. In order to reduce the incalculable risk of a terrorist attack, we are calling for early decommissioning of the older plants.
Storage of nuclear waste
Finding a solution to the problem of nuclear waste is still an urgent task. It would be immoral and irresponsible to leave this as our legacy for future generations. We are in favour of an open-ended and transparent search process for a suitable disposal site. It is crucial to involve the public from the outset. An open-ended search also means looking at the options for final storage in concrete or granite as an alternative to storage in salt-domes and salt mines. It is essential to choose the site which can be operated to the highest possible safety standards, based on careful analysis of all the relevant criteria.
Based on these considerations, the arguments against final storage at Gorleben are overwhelming. The fact that in 1983,the Kohl government deliberately manipulated an expert report on Gorleben in order to establish this site despite its geological faults is a further factor weighing against this option. These abuses must be investigated by a parliamentary committee of inquiry in order to clear the way for a genuine new beginning.
Abolition of privileges
The nuclear industry continues to benefit from privileges which drive up its profits. We want to impose stronger obligations on the nuclear companies, which must meet a share of the rising costs of dismantling obsolete plants and dealing with the leaking storage sites at Asse und Morsleben. We therefore want to introduce a nuclear fuel rod tax and transfer the nuclear industry's financial reserves to a public fund.