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Youth vs Greenpeace: Historic climate trial deciding future of nuclear power in Europe to go ahead

*** Breaking news from our Dear Greenpeace campaigners *** A Swedish teenager and her supporters have been granted a historic hearing at Europe’s highest court in a bid to defend nuclear power’s place in the EU taxonomy for sustainable finance. 

Dear Greenpeace campaigners gather outside the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg to deliver their opening arguments in the case. (Photo: Roel Millenaar)

The announcement by the European Court of Justice allows 18-year-old climate activist Ia Aanstoot the right to participate as an intervener* in upcoming litigation started by Greenpeace. The global NGO is suing the EU Commission for its inclusion of the low-carbon energy source in the taxonomy, which is designed to support technologies that can help meet Europe’s climate targets. 

‘If Greenpeace succeeds in halting the deployment of nuclear energy by overturning a democratic decision which was based on the best available science, it will seriously undermine the EU’s race to reach net zero’, Aanstoot says. ‘We cannot allow this to happen.’ 

Aanstoot and her fellow young activists from five European nations made global headlines this summer with their application to intervene in Greenpeace’s lawsuit and the concurrent launch of their Dear Greenpeace campaign. The campaign, supported by grassroots green group RePlanet, calls for Greenpeace to stop all anti-nuclear campaigning which, says Aanstoot, is ‘old-fashioned and no longer morally justified in a time of climate crisis.’

A petition to Greenpeace’s directors has already collected over 10,000 signatures. Hundreds of small public donations from across Europe have raised over €30,000.

‘My generation is pro-nuclear because we know we need to use every tool in the box to save our future’ - Ia Aanstoot

Ia Aanstoot, who spent three years striking from school as part of Greta Thunberg’s Fridays for Future movement, said: ‘The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and pretty much every world government agree that nuclear power is necessary to stop climate breakdown. My generation is pro-nuclear because we know we need to use every tool in the box to save our future. And yet here we are, forced to waste time going to court to defend a low-carbon energy source! Let’s get this legacy anti-nuclear nonsense over with once and for all, and let’s get on with the real fight of ending fossil fuels.’ 

Today, Aanstoot and other young people involved gathered outside the Luxembourg Court to submit their opening legal arguments. They reiterated their calls for Greenpeace to drop the lawsuit and to ‘use their resources to fight fossil fuels instead’. A banner read: ‘Fight fossils not nuclear’. 

Now that Aanstoot and RePlanet have been granted the status of being an ‘interested party’ in the case, they will provide their expert view on how nuclear energy can support the goal of reaching net zero. The bestowing of such status was notably supported by the Commission and not opposed by Greenpeace, court papers show. A full hearing is due in 2024.

François Jaffré, a 24-year-old student from France says, The fact that Greenpeace did not oppose our admission as an interested party is quite encouraging. To me it shows that Greenpeace respects the voice of young people and is open to having a proper debate. I have great respect for the veteran activists running Greenpeace and I have no doubt they will soon accept nuclear energy as part of the answer to our challenges, as my generation already has.’

[*] An intervening role in the European Court of Justice means that one can enter a court case as an ‘interested party’ and submit evidence and opinion in support of one side of the case. To do so, a party must prove to the courts that they have a significant prior involvement in the decision at stake. 


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