Mycle Schneider
( 1997 , France )

...for serving to alert the world to the unparalleled dangers of plutonium to human life.

Nuclear power, far from being a fatality, is a choice. ... Plutonium production and use continue. I am nevertheless confident that it is possible to stop this completely autocratic activity.


Mycle Schneider was born in 1959. Interested in the civil and military uses of nuclear energy, and concerned that there was so little international information available in France, he set up WISE-Paris in 1983, as the French connection of the World Information Service on Energy (WISE) International. From 1990 on, it worked independently.

Contact

Mycle Schneider
45, allée des deux cèdres
91210 Draveil
FRANCE
mycle@orange.fr
skype: mycleschneider

www.worldnuclearreport.org/
www.ieac.info/

Biography

The objectives of WISE-Paris are to develop and distribute high quality information on the various sources and forms of energy; to increase public comprehension of energy issues, especially the impact of the civil and military uses on the health and security of present and future generations, and to increase citizen involvement in environmental and energy saving issues.

In 1988, Schneider was full-time adviser to the Rainbow Group in the European Parliament on the Inquiry Committee on the Handling and Transport of Nuclear Materials. In 1992 he initiated and was one of the authors of the first “World Nuclear Industry Status Report” published by World Watch Institute, Greenpeace International and WISE-Paris. Recent updates of the report (2004, 2007, 2008) have reached international reference status.

In 1994-95 he co-authored a German TV documentary on the International Commission of Radiological Protection, entitled “With Friendly Recommendation – Radiation Death”.

He has written many papers and articles on energy and environmental issues, including a series of reports on the connection of Japanese, Belgian, Dutch and German plutonium, as well as Canadian uranium, with the French nuclear weapons programme. Schneider considers the plutonium industry to be “the single most threatening industrial activity for mankind and the environment”.

In 1991, Schneider went to Japan at the request of Jinzaburo Takagi, to …

The objectives of WISE-Paris are to develop and distribute high quality information on the various sources and forms of energy; to increase public comprehension of energy issues, especially the impact of the civil and military uses on the health and security of present and future generations, and to increase citizen involvement in environmental and energy saving issues.

In 1988, Schneider was full-time adviser to the Rainbow Group in the European Parliament on the Inquiry Committee on the Handling and Transport of Nuclear Materials. In 1992 he initiated and was one of the authors of the first “World Nuclear Industry Status Report” published by World Watch Institute, Greenpeace International and WISE-Paris. Recent updates of the report (2004, 2007, 2008) have reached international reference status.

In 1994-95 he co-authored a German TV documentary on the International Commission of Radiological Protection, entitled “With Friendly Recommendation – Radiation Death”.

He has written many papers and articles on energy and environmental issues, including a series of reports on the connection of Japanese, Belgian, Dutch and German plutonium, as well as Canadian uranium, with the French nuclear weapons programme. Schneider considers the plutonium industry to be “the single most threatening industrial activity for mankind and the environment”.

In 1991, Schneider went to Japan at the request of Jinzaburo Takagi, to participate in an International Plutonium Conference. He was struck by the similarities in the two countries’ treatment of the nuclear issue, and the two men started working together on the issues of waste and plutonium shipments between the two countries.

With Japan and France hosting the two remaining large-scale interests in plutonium use, and MOX (uranium-plutonium mixed oxide fuel) being the only use for plutonium outside fast breeder reactors (FBRs), Schneider started work with Takagi on a two-year intensive international research project on ‘A Comprehensive Social Impact Assessment of MOX in Light Water Reactors’, which was realeased in November 1997.

In December 1997, France shut down its Superphénix FBR. In Japan, after several accidents and scandals, public confidence in the industry decreased dramatically.

Schneider has given evidence and held briefings at Parliaments in Australia, Belgium, France, Germany, Japan, South Korea, Switzerland, UK and at the European Parliament. Between 1998 and 2003 he was an advisor to the French Environment Minister’s Office and to the Belgian Minister for Energy and Sustainable Development. Since 2000 he has been a consultant on nuclear issues to the German Environment Ministry.

After 20 years in office, Mycle Schneider left his position as Executive Director of WISE-Paris in April 2003 and now works as independent consultant on energy and nuclear policy. Since 2004 he has been in charge of the Environment and Energy Strategies Lecture of the International Master of Science for Project Management for Environmental and Energy Engineering at the French Ecole des Mines in Nantes. He has lectured extensively on four continents, including at Carlton University, Ottawa (Canada), Tsinghua University (China), Ecole de Commerce, Rouen (France), Freie Universität Berlin (Germany) and Ritsumeikan University, Kyoto (Japan).

In 2005 Schneider was appointed as nuclear security specialist to advise the UK Committee on Radioactive Waste Management (CoRWM). He was on the board of directors of the Takagi Fund for Citizen Science in Tokyo between 2001 and 2005.

In 2006-2007, Mycle Schneider was part of a consultant consortium that assessed nuclear decommissioning and waste management funding issues on behalf of the European Commission.

In 2007, Schneider was appointed as a member of the International Panel on Fissile Materials (IPFM), based at Princeton University, and he joined the Independent Group of Scientific Experts (IGSE) on the detection of clandestine nuclear-weapons-usable materials production.

In 2009, International Perspectives on Energy Policy and the Role of Nuclear Power, co-edited by Mycle Schneider, was released. The book includes 31 in-depth country studies by 30 authors. In addition, Schneider is the author of the World Nuclear Industry Status Reports.

Since 2013, Schneider serves as the Coordinator of the Seoul International Energy Advisory Council (SIEAC), a group of energy thinkers including Amory Lovins. They advise the Seoul Metropolitan Government on the Seoul’s Sustainable Energy Action Plan (called “One Less Nuclear Power Plant”), which had the ambitious goal to reduce or substitute the equivalent of 2 MTOE (approximate output of one reactor) in 32 months, succeeding 6 months earlier. SIEAC also helped to design the annual Seoul International Energy Conference in November 2014.

After that success, Schneider, spokesperson for SIEAC, and other members set up the creation of the International Energy Advisory Council (IEAC), launched in January 2015.

 
 

FAQ about Mycle Schneider

Questions asked in 2005

1. Do you foresee a renaissance of nuclear energy? 

In 2003, the wind power industry alone generated over 8,000 megawatts (MW) worldwide for a turnover of 8 billion euros ($10.5 billion), 12 times the capacity added by the nuclear industry to the power grids in the world that year.

But that’s anecdotal. The point is, beyond issues of belief and wishful thinking, independently of your opinion on nuclear power as such, nuclear reactors will not be able to make a major difference on climate change in the future because nobody orders them. And even if they were ordered, they would come in too late. We need solutions now! And as long as available energy-efficiency measures remain 4 to 7 times cheaper than nuclear power – in fact cheaper than most of the low carbon energy generating technologies – we should not remain stuck in a theological debate about nuclear power.

In reality, the nuclear industry is not even in a position to maintain the number of operating plants in the world. As we have shown in a recent report, the average age of the operating power plants is 21 years. We have assumed an average lifetime of 40 years for all operating reactors.

Considering the fact that the average age of all 108 units that already have been closed is equally about 21 years, the doubling of the operational lifetime seems rather optimistic. The exercise enables an evaluation of the number of plants that would have to come on-line over the next decades in order to maintain the same number of operating plants.

Roughly 80 reactors would have to be planned, built, and started up over the next ten years – one every month and a half – and an additional 200 units over the following 10-year period – one every 18 days. Even if Finland and France build a European Pressurized Water Reactor (EPR) and China went for an additional 20 plants and Japan, Korea, or Eastern Europe added one plant, the overall trend will be downwards.

With extremely long lead times of 10 years and more – the last unit to come online in the US took 23 years to build – it is practically impossible to maintain or even increase the number of operating nuclear power plants over the next 20 years, unless operating lifetimes could be substantially increased beyond 40 years on average, simultaneously raising significant safety issues. There is currently no basis for such an assumption. In fact, the Lithuanian reactor Ignalina-1, that was shut down on 31 December 2004, remains exactly on world average at age 21.

The relevance of nuclear power for the supply of commercial primary energy to the world is marginal with about 6% – tendency already downward. If you look at the share of final energy, that is the portion available for end-use after the losses in transformation and transport, nuclear power provides between 2% and 3% of the total.

Nuclear power is most likely on its way out. And it does not make a difference whether you like it or not.

(From http://www.utne.com/webwatch/2005_195/news/11620-1.html)

2. You describe plutonium production as an “autocratic activity”. What do you mean by that?

The plutonium economy is an authoritarian system beyond any democratic control. Furthermore, it does not have any corrective mechanisms that would allow severe strategic errors to be repaired. The most impressive illustration is the Japanese case: the official figure for the overall cost of 40 years of plutonium “fuel cycle” translated into a cost figure per gram of plutonium at least 40 times the current price of gold.

At the same time, the largest holders of non-military plutonium stocks in the world, BNFL and UKAEA in the UK and EDF in France have both allocated a zero value to these stocks.

3. You are a strong advocate of energy-efficient electrical devices. What can policy-makers do to promote their use?

There are countless possibilities what policy-makers could do in order to foster energy efficiency. The question is less to promote but to implement. The key point is the policy maker’s respective position in society. Each specific position allows for the implementation of specific measures. Let me name two examples:

Labelling of energy efficiency levels on electric household appliances has proven exceptionally efficient. Standards are set by national governments or supra-national institutions (e.g. the European Commission). But responsibility is also taken by the individual consumer. Energy efficient lighting, public and private, can be fostered by city councils, regional governments, electricity utilities and individual consumers. I’m still waiting for a city council or any other local authority to prohibit the sale of “Edison type” light bulbs on their territory. I believe it would be legally possible to enforce.

See also Amory Lovins:

Competitors To Nuclear: Eat My Dust

Nuclear Power’s Scorned Small-Scale Competitors Are Walloping It in the Marketplace

Publications

For more recent publications by/interviews with Mycle Schneider, and for the World Nuclear Industry Status Reports, please see

http://www.worldnuclearreport.org

Other publications by/interviews with Mycle Schneider:

Nuclear Power Made in France – A Model?
In: Nuclear Power’s Global Expansion: Weighing Its Costs and Risks.
Strategic Studies Institute – US Army War College, December 2010;
pp.189-277 (PDF and hard copy).

 

Reprocessing in France. With Yves Marignac, commissioned by the International Panel on Fissile Materials (IPFM). Princeton University, May 2008, 70 p.

Residual Risk – An Account of Events in Nuclear Power Plants Since the Chernobyl Accident in 1986. With Georgui Kastchiev, Wolfgang Kromp, Stephan Kurth, David Lochbaum, Ed Lyman and Michael Sailer, commissioned by MEP Rebecca Harms, May 2007, 116 p.

Summaries in English, French, German, 12 p.

The Permanent Nth Country Experiment – Nuclear Weapons Proliferation in a Rapidly Changing World. Commissioned by the Greens-EFA Group in the European Parliament. March 2007, 42 p.L’accès à l’information – un droit citoyen en mal d’application. Commissioned by Institut pour la radioprotection et la sûreté nucléaire (IRSN), February 2006, 12 p.

International Perspectives on Energy Policy and the Role of Nuclear Power. Edited by Mycle Schneider, Lutz Mez and Steve Thomas. Multi Science Publishing 2009.

Publications and interviews with Mycle Schneider on Fukushima

“Post-Fukushima nuclear allergy spreads in France”
The Japan Times, 19 April 2012
www.japantimes.co.jp/text/eo20120419a1.html

“Fukushima un an après: ‘La crise est loin d’être réglée'”
Interview avec Médiapart, 31 mars 2012
www.worldnuclearreport.org/Green-European-Journal-Belgium

“Routes de campagnes: Fessenheim et Toulouse”
Invité sur le plateau de Médiapart, 23 mars 2012
www.mediapart.fr/journal/france/230312/mediapart-2012-routes-de-campagnes (vidéo, 28 min)

“Fukushima a bouleversé notre rapport au nucléaire”
Interview et analyses avec Le Figaro.Fr, 9 mars 2012
videos.arte.tv/fr/videos/debat-6439130.html (video, 21:15 min)
www.arte.tv/fr/Video-Live-Chat/6439080.html (video, 52:58 min
videos.arte.tv/de/videos/debat-6439130.html (video, 21:15 min)
www.arte.tv/de/Video-Live-Chat/6439080.html (video, 53:08 min)

“Ein Jahr nach Fukushima – Was wird aus der Energiewende?”
Gespräch mit André Zantow, Wortwechsel, Deutschlandradio, 2. März 2012
ondemand-mp3.dradio.de (audio, 52 min)

Interview with Monitor, WDR-TV, “Ausser Kontrolle: Die brisanten Interna zu Fukushima”, 2011-04-07

Journalist, “Ich muss aufpassen, nicht aggressiv zu werden”, April 2011

Journal télévisé de TV5 Monde, Fukushima ou la fin du nucléaire”, 2011-04-07
Rue89, “Fukushima: “Distribuons de l’iode à la moitié du Japon”, 2011-03-26

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