There is a worry in France for many environmentalists, specifically those who backed the current President – Francoise Hollande in the last election. Many of them voted for him because of a single important pledge – to reduce the country’s reliance on nuclear power for it’s energy needs. The issue is becoming a major concern with an increase in coverage in the mainstream media not just ‘green’ coverage, you can access most online from outside the country by using a France proxy.
In fact he promised to halve the use of nuclear energy, which is no small feat for France. The country is the world’s biggest user of atomic energy, about three quarters of all it’s energy is derived in this way. But even if you don’t have objections to nuclear power on environmental concerns, there is a big problem with France’s reliance on this energy. Most of the nuclear reactors are now approaching the limit of their life expectancy, the majority were built in the 1970s and 40 years is considered a safe lifespan.
This means that the majority of the stations should really be decommission shortly, although there seems to be a lack of preparation to do this. Most expect that the aging stations will be kept open a little longer. The problem is that switching to different energy forms is extremely expensive, and will very likely effect the economy in the short term.
The discussion is likely to be quite lively, environmentalists have trusted President Hollande with their vote on this issue but the economic implications could be huge. France’s economy is still almost stagnant and it’s recovery is still among the weakest in Europe – the cost implications of a switch in it’s energy base would likely slow the economy even more.
It’s an interesting debate and one that is probably going to be repeated in other countries across the world. Here’s another source of information on changing your ip address so you can access French only content through a proxy – read this.