The Green Party, Nuclear Power, and Party Discipline
Is the Green Party too rigid in its opposition to nuclear power? Is nuclear power a safe alternative to fossil fuel? Are the Green Party concerns about the long term (seven generations) impact of nuclear power more important than the short term energy consumption needs of today’s generation?
Based on the interest in this story last week, I felt compelled to post this interesting story out of the UK. A Green Party Candidate for Parliament is finding himself in hot water for suggesting that atomic energy might have a role in fighting climate change. From The Independent:
Chris Goodall, prospective parliamentary candidate for Oxford West and Abingdon, upset many party members with his assertion in yesterday’s Independent that atomic energy has a role to play in the fight against climate change. Mr Goodall was one of four prominent environmentalists disclosed as having had a change of heart about the nuclear issue, having moved from an anti-nuclear stance to believing that atomic power is a necessary part of the energy mix in the struggle to cut carbon emissions and halt global warming.
The others are Lord Smith of Finsbury, the former Labour cabinet minister who now chairs the Environment Agency; Stephen Tindale, a former executive director of Greenpeace, and Mark Lynas, the author of two studies of climate change. But while the others are in essence free agents, Mr Good-all’s case is distinctive in that his views are now formally at odds with one of his own party’s key policy positions.
Resolute opposition to nuclear power has been a cornerstone of Green party policy for years, as is made clear in the party’s principal policy document, Manifesto for a Sustainable Society, which states unambiguously that a Green government, on taking office, would set a deadline for phasing out all nuclear power.
Mr Goodall’s remarks had left many party members “seriously concerned”, the Green Party leader, Caroline Lucas, MEP, said last night. “It is of great concern to me that a candidate should be promoting a policy which is at odds with the party manifesto, and I shall be taking that forward,” she said. “In any party, you have a range of different views, but once selected as a parliamentary candidate, you have a particular responsibility.”
The matter would be dealt with by the party’s regional council, after speaking to Mr Goodall directly, she said. Asked if this would include disciplinary action and possibly even de-selection as a candidate, Ms Lucas would only say: “We will be taking appropriate measures.”
The Green Party of the UK and the USA both explicitly oppose nuclear power in their platforms. The Green Party globally was formed just 30 years ago, in many places it formed as a union between anti-nuke activists, peace activists, environmental activists, and social justice activists. These roots still run deep in the Green Party, but are they now being challenged? At least one European Green Party caught hell for their reluctant support for a war (was it Kosovo or Iraq?). The Green Party of Mexico is catching hell for their support of the death penalty.
Are nukes on the table or not?