French anti-nuclear movement allies with austerity drive via Deutsche Welle

A team of energy experts, engineers and architects wants to free the French of their nuclear dependence by 2050. In an election year, the appeal to energy austerity is attracting attention from left to right.

It’s all in the name.

Since last autumn, the French organization negaWatt has been staging its own Tour de France to gather support for its vision of how the country should power its economy in the future.

The idea comes from American environmentalist Amory Lovins, who coined the term negawatt in 1989. It describes a unit of energy saved through conservation or efficiency.

In France, which gets more than three quarters of its electricity from nuclear power, the appeal to efficiency has been winning approval ever since Japan’s Fukushima disaster of March 2011.

“Ours is not an anti-nuclear religion,” says Thierry Salomon, vice president of negaWatt. “But nuclear energy does not represent a sustainable form of energy production.”

The events of last year have given negaWatt its own burst of energy.

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