For more than a year, we have been following the saga of Russia’s crackdown on civil society and in particular the state’s efforts to disempower or shut down the country’s most active and effective anti-nuclear organization, Ecodefense. As we reported last June, Russia labeled Ecodefense a “foreign agent”–essentially accusing it of spying and being controlled by outside nations. It, and a handful of human rights organizations, were the first in the nation to be targeted under Russia’s “foreign agent” law adopted in 2012 but only begun to be enforced last year. The law is ostensibly aimed at reducing Western influence in Russia; in reality it’s attempting to weaken all organizations that seek to challenge any aspect of Vladimir Putin’s regime. Ecodefense is being targeted for its success in organizing and mobilizing the public and stopping construction of new nuclear reactors in the nation, not for posing a threat to the government. Continue reading
This post originally appeared on dianuke.org, a site run by a group of dedicated people working against nuclear power in India particularly and South Asia generally. It also ran on the Mining Awareness blog, from which we repost it with a few edits.
Vladimir Sliviak is an ex-officio board member of NIRS and the longtime leader of Ecodefense in Russia. His reports on the Russian government’s crackdown on civil society, including on Ecodefense, appeared several times on GreenWorld last year (just search for “Ecodefense” and you’ll find them).
DiaNuke.org interviewed the eminent environmentalist Vladimir Slivyak, whose group EcoDefense has been facing repression in Russia for exposing the lack of nuclear safety and environmental impacts. His report on the status of nuclear industry in Russia, prepared at the request of the African environmental group Earthlife, was published recently. Africa is also an important market that the Russian nuclear giant Atomsroyexport is eying. Continue reading
On July 8, we posted that the Russian anti-nuclear group Ecodefense was being labeled a “foreign agent” by Russian authorities–a designation that would cripple the organization’s activities.
The Russian government made the designation official on Monday of this week–even before a court hearing on the issue, already scheduled to take place on August 25. A report from the Norwegian group Bellona on the designation–and that of four prominent Russian human rights organizations–is here.
Today, Ecodefense filed its own lawsuit against the Russian Ministry of Justice’s designation of the group as a foreign agent. Continue reading for Ecodefense’s statement about this lawsuit. Continue reading
Today, Russia’s Ecodefense, the leading anti-nuclear power organization in the country, was branded a “foreign agent” by the Russian government. Under Russian law adopted recently, non-profit organizations that fail to register as a “foreign agent” but are found to be one can be subject to large fines and dissolution of the organization. While part of the international NIRS/WISE network, Ecodefense was founded in Russia, is based in Russia, and has focused on issues affecting Russia. It has, for those reasons, refused to register as a “foreign agent,” which in Russia is tantamount to an admission that the organization is controlled from abroad and effectively is undertaking espionage activities on behalf of other nations–neither of which is true in the case of Ecodefense.
In April, GreenWorld posted a piece from Ecodefense’s Vladimir Sliviak on the growing repression in Russia and how it seemed Ecodefense was being targeted by the government. Today that piece is all too prescient.
Today, we post a press release from Ecodefense on this latest crackdown on civil society in Russia. Continue reading
One of the most disappointing aspects of the Ukrainian crisis has been the failure of many, especially on the left, to understand the nature of the revolution that took place there over the winter that led to the literal departure of former President Victor Yanukovich from the country, established an interim–and rather weak–transitional government, and set the stage for new elections later this month.
It as if some on the left have become as reflexively dismissive of the Obama Administration as the Tea Party and simply reject whatever stand the Administration takes. In this case, however, the Administration has chosen the correct side. And that has led some on the left to parrot the worst of Putin’s propaganda machine, leading too many to believe that somehow fascists have taken over Ukraine and are trying to undermine the people of eastern Ukraine.
In fact, the opposite is the case. As we have pointed out in these pages, the Ukrainian revolution was led by people like us: anti-nukers and environmentalists generally played a major role in its success; so did other ordinary people fed up with the chronic corruption that has ruled Ukraine since its independence and that reached its peak under Yanukovich, who with his family and allies essentially looted the entire nation’s bank accounts.
The Russian invasion and takeover of Crimea has proven to be extremely popular for Vladimir Putin, and has given rise to a new–and somewhat frightening–level of Russian nationalism. While the popularity boost may be temporary: further Russian aggression, exactly the kind that began over the weekend in eastern Ukraine with armed soldiers in identical uniforms without insignia taking over government buildings in a number of cities and towns, is likely to both ultimately fail (recent polls show that even in eastern Ukraine, only about 4% of the public wants to be annexed by Russia) and cause serious damage to Russia’s economy.
Even though apparently popular, support for Putin’s policies has hardly been unanimous. Few realize that 50,000 people protested in Moscow last month against the Crimea takeover, and yesterday 10,000 joined a new protest against both Russia’s actions toward Ukraine and the country’s shutdown of most independent media outlets.
The mainstream media, in this case the Orange County Register, has finally taken note of a lawsuit filed by dozens of U.S. sailors aboard the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan alleging they have suffered health effects from Fukushima radiation. The ship provided assistance to Japan in the immediate aftermath of the Fukushima accident, but was forced to move away from the area when radiation levels became excessive. The prospect of the suit being successful is at best unclear, but the reality that U.S. servicemembers were directly threatened–and charge that they were directly affected–by Fukushima radiation has not received the attention it deserves. Hopefully this quite fair article will encourage other media outlets to look at the story too.
NIRS ex-officio board member Vladimir Sliviak, director of Russia’s Ecodefense (NIRS/WISE partner in Russia), is interviewed on nuclear power in the Baltic region and expresses his concern that possible Russian war actions in Eastern Ukraine could endanger Ukrainian reactors, among other topics.
China’s Renewable Energy Revolution Has Global Implications. Long and important article from CleanTechnica on what is really happening in the Chinese energy sector. And that is renewables. China is now the world’s largest producer of electricity. And it is investing huge amounts of money in renewables, which already account for nearly 30% of the nation’s installed generation capacity and 20% of actual generation. Absolutely startling is that China’s renewable energy capacity is nearly as large as the total electric generation capacity of Germany and France–combined.
As for China’s supposed love affair with nuclear power–at least according to nuclear supporters? At the end of 2013, nuclear accounted for only 1.2% of China’s installed generation capacity, and in terms of actual generation wind power alone provided more electricity than nuclear over the year.
True, China is still building fossil fuel plants and nuclear reactors; but the country is investing more money on upgrading its electrical grid to accommodate more renewables and on renewables themselves, than any other energy sources. The country isn’t there yet–there is far too much fossil fuel generation that is causing deadly air pollution, a factor that already is limiting growth in that sector. And while it does not appear that nuclear power will ever be a significant contributor to China’s electrical system (i.e., it’s not likely to ever reach the 20% level of the U.S. of a few years ago), that could still mean the construction of quite a few new reactors. But the trend toward renewables in China is clear and growing–and that’s a good sign for the rest of the world too.
The U.S. may be playing catch-up to China when it comes to renewables (especially windpower) but the U.S. is making a pretty good game of it too. Hundreds of millions of dollars are pouring into solar power firms to finance the installation–most often through popular leasing models–of new rooftop solar systems. A record 1.9 GW of distributed solar was installed in the U.S. last year (one report says that there are now 100,000 rooftop solar systems in place in Northern California alone), and the amount of such solar has grown 15 times just in the past five years as prices continue to drop. With this kind of financing available, the market should continue this rapid growth level for the foreseeable future.
Headlines last week sounded worrisome–global spending on renewables dropped in 2013 by 14%. Some took that to mean that the renewables industry is suffering a downturn. And, in fact, there was a slight drop in new renewable energy installations overall. But a look behind the numbers shows a very different story: a main reason for the drop in spending was the drop in solar costs. In other words, people were spending less but buying more solar power. And indeed, the article points out “Photovoltaic installations last year surged 26 percent to 39 gigawatts, the most ever, even as solar investment dropped 23 percent to $104 billion.” Ulf Moslener, a professor at the Frankfurt School of Finance & Management, described it this way, “A nice comparison would be the telecom industry,” Moslener said. “Wasn’t there a time at the beginning when it was very expensive? The costs went down, and that didn’t necessarily mean the end of cellphones.” No, it didn’t. In fact, when costs went down, cellphone use skyrocketed–and that’s the projection for solar power too.
Moving on to wind power, costs are dropping there too, by 43% over the past four years according to the Department of Energy. And now, for the first time, wind power globally–even without subsidies–has reached “grid parity” with natural gas, meaning that both cost about the same to produce: $84/MWh of electricity.
April 8, 2014
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