« L’humanité doit choisir ses sources d’énergie » - Sfen

« L’humanité doit choisir ses sources d’énergie »

Publié le 9 septembre 2015 - Mis à jour le 28 septembre 2021
  • Nuclear4Climate
  • RGN

Becoming a journalist was the obvious choice for Stéphane Paoli. For a long time, he was the host of the morning programme of French radio station France Inter. Since 2010, he has been presenting 3D, the Sunday night news. His radio set is always eclectic and gives the floor to a multidisciplinary and open-minded panel of speakers. About nuclear, he says: “It is an important discovery that has changed people’s lives.


In his office at France Inter, Stéphane Paoli is surrounded by books. Those that he has written, those that he reads, those sent by publishers and that he gives to a humanitarian association once he has read them. Passionate about his job, he is “open to every subject that matters to society”. He is mostly interested in “understanding how an event, whatever it is, can interact with the rest of society”.

When he was studying law, he got a summer job at the ORTF, the former French national radio and television agency, in order to pay for his first car. On 21 July 1969, he was lucky enough to watch Neil Armstrong set a foot on the Moon on live television. From then on he decided to become a journalist.

When he thinks of nuclear: “the first image that comes into my mind is the atomic bomb. It is a long-lasting image that you can’t get rid of easily”. In an imaginary world, cancer is referred to as a “crab” and nuclear as a “mushroom”, two images that “echo back to our fears”. In fact, it is difficult to talk about nuclear without using a “nearly theological approach”. Referring to the Curie Institute, he recalls that “nuclear has also saved many lives”.

However, the atom does not inspire in him “anything in particular, except including it in a broad field that goes from health to defense”. Thus, “nuclear is a fact. It is a reality and an important discovery.”

Stéphane Paoli reckons “that the real issue with which the nuclear sector is confronted and to which he doesn’t know any satisfactory solution is the one of radioactive waste”. He considers that radioactive waste has a very long lifetime that goes beyond our own lives and therefore entails a question of intergenerational equity. He finds that what has been published on the issue so far is not clear and detailed enough. As a journalist, he doesn’t know what answer he can give to this question. And yet, the issue of waste “questions our own responsibility: what will we leave to the next generations?

Ahead of the COP21 talks and while climate prospects are increasingly worrying, Stéphane Paoli considers that “we are at a time when humanity must choose its energy sources”. For him, and without being preachy, he doesn’t have “the feeling that the questions are really being asked with the visibility that they deserve. It is a societal issue that concerns everyone.

He believes that “policy-makers and media do not address the energy issue directly enough”. And yet, he recalls that “it is an emergency. The timing of policy-makers’ choices will be crucial. These issues are extremely important, because environmental action is an existential question. The future of humanity is at stake.”

He knows “that nuclear is part of the issue, an important energy source that raises all kinds of questions”. But he believes that “all these issues must be tackled in a neutral, unbiased and undogmatic way”. As he is a curious journalist, he suggests: “let’s ask all the questions at once, with the competent people who know what they are talking about and then let’s decide what we can do.

How can nuclear be combined with other sources of energy? Is it possible to use nuclear while minimizing its potential negative or dangerous impact? He would like to find an answer to these questions, because he admits that “as far as nuclear is concerned, he is ignorant”. Since he goes regularly past nuclear power plants, he sees them and knows them, “but he has never had the opportunity to visit one of them. It is certainly very interesting!

Let’s arrange a visit!


3 questions to Stéphane Paoli 


Short CV 

Stéphane Paoli was born in Rabat, Morocco, in the middle of the 20th century. He begins his career at the ORTF in 1969. He then joined Europe 1 in 1974 and worked there for 20 years until he moved to another radio station, France Inter. He presented the 7/9 of France Inter until a brain stroke decided him “not to wake up every morning at 4 o’clock”. He published with Alain Rey, Linguist and Editor in Chief of the “Robert”, Causa: Exchange, share and recognize, an epistolary collection. In the framework of COP21, he supports the initiative Place to B.


Original article published in Revue Générale Nucléaire 

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Publié par Isabelle Jouette (SFEN)

  • Nuclear4Climate
  • RGN