An open letter concerning the premature decommissioning of Ringhals nuclear reactors operating in Sweden

By 01.07.2019 16 kwietnia, 2021 One Comment

An open letter
concerning the premature decommissioning of fully functional nuclear power plants operating in Sweden.

Mr Stefan Löfven, Prime Minister of Sweden
Members of the Swedish Parliament,
Representatives of churches and religious communities,
Scientists, artists and creators,
Representatives and activists of Swedish ecological organisations
Citizens of Sweden,

as citizens of your neighbouring country, representing many groups and organisations, the world of science and culture, as citizens of the European Union, aware of the unprecedented threat to the biosphere related to the global climate change, we implore you to allow Vattenfall to reconsider the decision from 2015 on the final decommissioning of two fully functional nuclear power plants due to be closed 2019 and 2020.

The findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concerning the consequences of global climate warming by 1.5°C above the pre-industrial level and related global greenhouse gas emission scenarios indicate that – should global warming proceed at the current pace – the value of 1.5°C will probably be reached between 2030 and 2052.

Simultaneously, both the IPCC report and dozens of other reports and studies by scientists from all around the world predict the disastrous effect of global warming on the environment. The IPCC report also points out that future climate threats will depend on the pace, maximum value and duration of the warming. They stress the need to keep the temperature increase at around 1.5°C, which would limit pressure exerted by global warming on land and aquatic ecosystems, on which the lives of billions of people and the survival of thousands of other species depend.

In the IPCC climate mitigation scenarios where the 1.5°C threshold is not exceeded or only slightly exceeded, net global anthropogenic CO2 emissions drop to approximately 45% by 2030, compared to the 2010 level. These scenarios require rapid and far-reaching transformation in almost all areas of human endeavour – changing agriculture, protecting and restoring natural habitats, and mainly transforming the energy sector. In the majority of scenarios where warming is limited to 1.5°C or slightly over this threshold it is assumed that the share of nuclear power in electricity generation will increase.

We are aware of the ongoing discussion concerning the place for nuclear power in a long-term sustainable power generation model and we think it still requires more deliberation based on complete scientific data. However, it is important to note that IPCC explicitly names investing in “extension of life of existing plants as an effective greenhouse gas mitigation option”.

As established by hundreds of scientists in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, only rapid and effective phase out of fossil fuels gives us a chance to keep global temperature increase below or only slightly over 1.5°C. As of today, this is necessary to ensure an acceptable future for billions of people.

Sweden is an example for all of us as a country that has drastically reduced its CO2 emissions since the 1970s by the introduction of hydro and nuclear power. Thanks to the SwePol link, Swedish power has been an important element of the stability of our northern electricity grid. Thanks to the import of low carbon energy from Sweden, Poland could avoid additional burning of coal and corresponding CO2 emissions.

Now Sweden already has a power deficit and is prematurely closing the nuclear power plants Ringhals 1 and Ringhals 2, that in 2018 produced 13.3 TWh of very low carbon electricity, which will likely further increase said power deficit. What is particularly important, this situation will very likely open new possibilities for export of Polish, mostly coal generated electricity to Sweden, particularly at times of low water levels in pumped hydro storage installations. Such decision might reverse the current  situation, increase CO2 emissions and even provide unnecessary economical rationale for extension of life for Polish fossil fuel power generation. We kindly ask that you consider this systemic consequence, since it will most likely affect the carbon budgets of both Poland and Sweden.

Vattenfall being a state owned company has an energy mix decided by the owner that today does not allow the operation of these two reactors. That is why we appeal to you to reconsider and allow the necessary investments to prolong the usage of these reactors and not replace their power by CO2 emitting power generation, instead providing time to implement effective, state-of-the-art technologies for the storage of power generated by renewables. This would accelerate the decarbonisation processes, serving as an example and giving hope to other countries on our planet, which will be making decisions on the future of their power systems and on their role in preventing climate change and degradation of the biosphere.

Sweden as a global policy leader and a country which provides guidance in the struggle to halt the warming of the Earth’s climate would therefore give a strong signal by giving new instructions to Vattenfall that decarbonization is the most important criterion in decision-making.

Yours sincerely,

Adam Błażowski
Agata Brzezińska
Adam Bohdan
Andrzej Gąsiorowski
Paweł Kisiel

And members and sympathizers of FOTA4Climate