France's Macron commits to restarting nuclear power development
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President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday announced France would restart the construction of new nuclear plants in order to better meet growing energy and environmental challenges.
"To guarantee France's energy independence and achieve our objectives, in particular carbon neutrality in 2050, we will for the first time in decades relaunch the construction of nuclear reactors in our country," Macron said in an televised address to the nation on Tuesday.
Speaking as the COP26 climate summit continues in Glasgow, Macron vowed that France would also continue to develop renewable energy.
France, which derives the majority of its electricity from nuclear power, is currently building a new third-generation EPR nuclear reactor in Flamanville in Normandy.
But work on the site, which began in 2007, has still not been completed. French energy firm EDF submitted a feasibility study to the government this spring for a programme to build six new reactors.
"If we want to pay for our energy at reasonable rates and not depend on foreign countries, we must both continue to save energy and invest in the production of carbon-free energy on our soil," Macron said.
The Green party in France denounced the decision to restart the construction of new nuclear power plants.
"I am not surprised, but I am scandalised. It's not up to the president to announce, without any debate, that we are going down the dangerous path of a nuclear programme," said Julien Bayou of Europe Ecologie-les Verts. "It's really the wrong way to persist with nuclear power."
In a statement, Greenpeace France lashed out at Macron's announcement, accusing him of electioneering ahead of next April's presidential polls. While Macron has not yet officially declared his candidacy, he is expected to stand for re-election.
"Announcing a nuclear revival and the construction of new reactors as the nuclear industry is mired in fiascos is totally disconnected from reality," said Greenpeace France's energy transition campaigner Nicolas Nace, pointing to the delays at Flamanville.
"Too expensive, too slow and too dangerous, nuclear power is obsolete in a climate emergency," he added.
Macron's announcement comes as the head of the UN nuclear agency said last week on the sidelines of the COP26, he saw atomic power playing a key role in balancing climate concerns and the world's energy needs.
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