From: Rod McGuirk, Associated Press
Published February 14, 2007 12:00 AM

Australia and Finland's Leaders Agreed Nuclear Is Not Miracle Solution to Global Warming

CANBERRA, Australia -- Australian Prime Minister John Howard and Finland's President Tarja Halonen agreed Wednesday that nuclear energy was not a miracle solution to climate change during discussions about global warming.

Howard is fighting the opposition Labor Party to introduce nuclear reactors in Australia while Finland is building a new reactor which would increase its nuclear power generation from 18 percent to 27 percent of its electricity needs by 2010.

Halonen, making her third visit to Australia as her country's president, called for a balance in the international energy mix. She predicted renewable energy sources such as wind and solar would become more important in the future and warned of security risks associated with atomic power.

"There is no ... one miracle key for the energy issues," Halonen told reporters at a joint press conference with Howard, adding that mainstream energy sources have "negative side effects."

Howard agreed.

"There is no single, magic response; you have to have every option on the table," Howard said.

He said the fact that Finland was the only European Union country building a new nuclear reactor was of "contemporary interest to all of us."

Australia and the United States are the only industrialized countries to refuse to sign up to the Kyoto Protocol on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Howard argues that Kyoto is a failure because its does not impose emission targets on some of the world's largest polluters such as the United States, China and India.

But Australia and the United States have joined with China, India, Japan and South Korea in a new voluntary environmental protection plan to reduce global warming.

The plan, known as the Asia Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate, or AP6, was established in 2005 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by promoting renewable energy sources and cleaner ways to use coal.

Unlike Kyoto, AP6 does not impose binding targets on member countries for reducing their carbon emissions.

Halonen said she would like to see "real global agreements" on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and was "not too optimistic" about Kyoto achieving this goal.

She expected Australia would encourage the United States, China and India to join in global cooperation on the environment.

"The best possible thing that has happened is that now people understand in different parts of the world that climate change is a fact and we have to work together," she said.

Source: Associated Press

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