Hi - I have a couple of concerns about this article.
Firstly, Greg never "support[ed] the expansion of uranium mining and exports in Australia". His comments were taken out of context, and WWF-Australia does not support expansion of uranium mining.
In fact, when there has been a direct threat from mining to biodiversity - such as uranium mining expansion into Kakadu National Park - WWF has clearly and consistently opposed it.
A Letter to the Editor of The Australian, which remains unpublished, also clarifies WWF's position and flatly denies the accusation that Greg went "to London to lobby the international organisation to overturn its anti-nuclear stance". A copy of that letter is available online.
Lastly, in a second (this time published) Letter to the Editor after a third accusation in The Australian that WWF supported nuclear, despite all the public statements mentioned above, Greg Bourne says: "WWF does not believe that Australia needs to put 'atomic energy back on the table', as claimed in your editorial 'The nuclear option'. Australia is a massive continent with a population of just 20 million and with more renewable or cleaner resources per person than any other nation on earth -- including wind, solar and natural gas. Nuclear power is not the solution to climate change."
I hope that clarifies WWF's position, and I do hope that this article is updated to reflect the additional information mentioned here.
Queries on Post Above
Thanks for your comments on the pages relating to WWF Australia and Greg Bourne re nuclear power/uranium mining. Before revising the article it would be appreciated if you could clarify a few points so that we can progress this.
1. You say the Greg/WWF Australia don't support an expansion of uranium mining.
Can you point me to a statement or a WWF Australia policy that says that?
2. In the Hawke Lecture in November 2005 Greg's speech, which is on the WWF website, includes the following.
"Australians are also the world’s second largest exporters of uranium into a growing world demand. Australia seems destined to continue mining and exporting but we should not be mining in fragile and endangered ecosystems. The Australian public needs to know that the uranium is being used for peaceful purposes, that the waste products are being stored safely and that proliferation cannot occur. We should demand that of our leaders and of the mining companies; it is not sufficient to just cross our fingers and hope."  (Pdf)
Now that seems to indicate support for at least some uranium mines in Australia but not unspecified ones in "fragile and endangered ecosystems".
Can you clarify which current and proposed uranium mines are those which WWF Australia considers to be in "fragile and endangered ecosystems"?
2. You wrote: "In fact, when there has been a direct threat from mining to biodiversity - such as uranium mining expansion into Kakadu National Park - WWF has clearly and consistently opposed it.
I can't find any references on the WWF Australia website to Jabiluka or the Ranger mine. I'd appreciate it if you could point me to relevant links.
3. You refer to the WWF Australia statement http://wwf.org.au/news/wwf-says-nuclear-no-answer-to-climate-change/ which states: "With regard to uranium mining, which has been undertaken in Australia for decades, WWF-Australia believes that the public requires absolute safeguards to ensure that Australian uranium is only being used for peaceful purposes, that the waste products are being stored safely, and that proliferation cannot occur. Australians must demand these guarantees from our Government and businesses."
I also note the other letter by Bourne dismissing the role of nuclear power in Australia.
These two statements seems to me to imply that WWF Australia's position is: a) it supports the export of Australian uranium for "peaceful" nuclear power use overseas but doesn't see nuclear power as being relevant in Australia; b) it believes that nuclear waste is being "stored safely" somewhere; and c) that it is possible for nuclear power to proliferate without increasing the risk of weapons proliferation.
Is that what WWF Australia's position is?
4. There was a Joint Australian Environment Groups communique on the nuclear industry and climate change issued on May 8, 2006. http://www.wilderness.org.au/campaigns/policy/joint_groups_nuclear_climate_change2
It has been signed by 16 of the major conservation groups in Australia. However, WWF Australia is not a signatory.
Was WWF Australia, and Greg Bourne in particular, approached to sign the communique? If so, did WWF decline? If it declined to sign-on to the statement, can you explain why?
6. Can you confirm that WWF's Mining Certification Evaluation Project does not specifically exclude uranium mines from being certified?
7. In an earlier comment you made a passing reference to comments made about WWF Australia's industry funding. Does WWF Australia currently receive financial or in-kind support from for its work from mining companies, including for projects such as the Mining Certification Evaluation Project? If so, which ones and what for?
I look forward to your responses
Last night I remembered Bourne's interview with ABC's Earthbeath program in 2004 http://www.abc.net.au/rn/science/earth/stories/s1201409.htm In this Bourne stated
- Greg Bourne: Firstly, I don’t think we will see nuclear power in Australia perhaps not at all. That’s a long time of course. I do think we will see nuclear power growing in countries like China, I think we’ll see it growing in countries like India and in Pakistan, and for every nuclear power station that they put in in China, is a coal power station not put in. ON balance, I personally think that is a good thing, others will think otherwise.
- Alexandra de Blas: Do you think WWF’s membership would approve of the fact that the new boss, who used to run an oil company, supports nuclear power?
Greg Bourne: I think the way I look at the world is very, very much in a holistic way. We have to look at the situation, the fact that the world’s population is growing, that population is demanding energy to pull well over 2-billion people out of poverty, and I think it’s ethnically wrong for us to think that we’re all right in the developed world, and the developing world can go without energy and stay where they are. I think there’s going to be many, many, many solutions to the energy needs in the future. The first ones I would put are energy efficiency. The next ones I would put would be solar energy, renewables, and wind. Certainly nuclear will play its part; I don’t think it will play its part here in Australia.
Seems pretty clear what his views are. --Bob Burton 17:12, 25 May 2006 (EDT)
I'm not the person to answer your specific questions - Greg Bourne is probably the best person to contact about those specific points.
Ultimately the debate needs to be about solutions to climate change, and WWF has consistently promoted renewable energy such as wind, solar and gas-fired power stations (for base-load power) as the solution. WWF does not believe that nuclear is the solution.
My purpose in responding here was to point out that your original article did not take into account the points I raised, which are all on the public record.