2023/02/23 Press Conference : Protests against the Russian invasion and nuclear threat of Ukraine

On February 24, 2022, one year ago, Russia invaded Ukraine. The invasion remains the largest military attack on a European country since the Second World War. The war continues to this day, threatening the entire European continent and the whole world with a nuclear, humanitarian and environmental crisis. On February 23, 2023, several organisations gathered in front of the Presidential Palace in Taipei to protest the Russian invasions of Ukraine and the nuclear power risks associated with this war.

According to Xie Beiyi 謝蓓宜, Deputy Secretary General of the Environmental Law Association 環境法律人協會副秘書長, one of the most serious threats in this war is an attack of the Russian army on the Ukrainian area containing a nuclear power plant, the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant. Because of the risks of attacking this power plant, the Russian army could use it both as a shield and as a weapon. The Ukrainian Meteorological Service and the nuclear power company issued a statement last year claiming that a nuclear disaster at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant could contaminate at least half of Europe. However, even if the reactor itself is not attacked, an attack on the power plant’s surrounding facilities, even on a small scale, could result in radioactive contamination. With increasing pressures and the possibility of war in Taiwan, Xie stated that authorities should conduct a more thorough examination of Taiwan’s current nuclear power plants; including not only at the reactor buildings but also at the dry storage facilities and nuclear waste repositories. This is important because adequate protection measures are required to withstand a war.

The war has not only directly harmed innocent people with its artillery fires, but it has also negatively impacted the environment due to high levels of pollution and carbon emissions. Wu Xinping 吳心萍, Director of Homemakers United Foundation 主婦聯盟環境保護基金會, stated that it is estimated that approximately 20% of Ukraine’s nature reserves have been lost as a result of the war, and that the war would contribute at least 5% of global emissions, implying that the war, in addition to causing a major humanitarian crisis, could exacerbate the global climate risk. Wu also stated that we should reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and that decentralised, low-carbon energy sources are needed, suggesting, for example, that photovoltaic panels can be installed on buildings, small wind turbines can be installed in open spaces, etc.

Furthermore, the war has caused issues with energy transition, because it has forced the EU to purchase energy from other countries, causing global natural gas prices to skyrocket. Thus, according to Yang Shunmei 楊順美, Secretary General of Mom Loves Taiwan Association 媽媽氣候行動聯盟秘書長, the war has caused record-high fossil fuel subsidies and increased emissions from the EUs electricity sector. However, countries are realising the benefits of reducing fossil fuels for national security and, instead, are accelerating the global energy transition.

Tsai Yaying 蔡雅瀅, Lawyer at Taiwan Wild at Heart Legal Defense Association 台灣蠻野心足生態協會, stated that Taiwan is overly reliant on imported energy, which exposes Taiwan not only to fluctuations in international fuel prices but also makes it more vulnerable to an energy crisis in the event of a war – as a war would cause disruptions in trade. In addition to reducing its reliance on imported fossil energy, the government should replace it with its own renewable energy sources, such as geothermal energy, while using environmentally friendly construction methods. Furthermore, Tsai stated that the government should explain to the public the dangers that nuclear power plants face in the event of a war.

The meeting concluded with the following statements: Taiwan stands in solidarity with Ukraine and joins the international community in condemning the use of nuclear threats. We demand the following:

-       Russia should stop its military invasion of Ukraine and withdraw its troops.

-       To avoid the risk of a irreversible nuclear disaster, a demilitarised zone should be established around Ukraine’s nuclear power plants.

-       Russia and other nuclear-armed states should refrain from and end the threat of nuclear weapons in order to avoid jeopardizing humanity’s the survival and security.


Spokespersons at this meeting:

-       Xie Beiyi謝蓓宜, Deputy Secretary General of Environmental Jurists Association(EJA) 環境法律人協會副秘書長

-       Wu Xinping 吳心萍, Director of the Homemakers Union Foundation (HUF)主婦聯盟環境保護基金會主任

-       Yang Shunmei 楊順美, Secretary General of the Mom Loves Taiwan Association媽媽氣候行動聯盟秘書長

-       Tsai Yaying 蔡雅瀅, Lawyer at Taiwan Wild at Heart Legal Defense Association 台灣蠻野心足生態協會專職律師