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Nuclear not answer to climate change

The federal government was betraying Australians by promoting more uranium exports to fuel nuclear power, Australian Greens Senator for Tasmania Christine Milne said today.

"The Howard government finally admitted last month that climate change is real but it refuses to commit to serious measures to address the greatest environmental challenge the world faces," Senator Milne said in Canberra.

"Instead, it is promoting an expansion of uranium mining and exports, with Foreign Minister Alexander Downer announcing today that Australia is negotiating a nuclear cooperation agreement with China.

"Minister Downer claims that diversifying from fossil fuels will result in lower greenhouse gas and particulate emissions. He ignores the risks to people and the environment of expanding uranium mining and nuclear power production.

"The nuclear energy industry has failed to resolve the problem of waste storage and no safeguards agreement can ensure that Australian uranium does not find its way into the nuclear weapons cycle.

"Nuclear power is not the answer to climate change. We need to turn the Australian economy into a low-carbon economy, generating new jobs and export opportunities in renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies.

"This is the only way to provide a sustainable solution to climate change while ensuring economic stability. The sooner we begin the transition the easier it will be."

Senator Milne will give notice this afternoon of a motion calling on the government to abandon the expansion of uranium mining. The motion appears below:

That the Senate:

  1. Notes the federal government's intention to override the Northern Territory government in pursuit of expanding uranium mining, announced on the eve of the 60th anniversary of the United States of America dropping the first atomic bomb, killing around 140,000 people in the Japanese city of Hiroshima;
  2. Rejects the expansion of uranium mining because of its potential to cause grave harm to people and the environment, and the risk of Australian uranium being diverted to the production of nuclear weapons; and
  3. Calls on the federal government to abandon the expansion of uranium mining and instead support the expansion of energy efficiency and renewable energy to address the challenge of climate change.

Contact: Katrina Willis 0437 587 562 or 02 6277 3063

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