Protests against the construction of the Zwentendorf Nuclear Power Plant in Austria had started in 1972. The referendum in 1978 resulted in small majority against nuclear power and the Zwentendorf plant was never put into operation.
On 26 April 1986, an explosion and fire at the nuclear power station Chernobyl released large quantities of radioactive contamination into the atmosphere, which spread over much of Western USSR and Europe.
The information available to the public in European countries had a large variation. In some European countries the public lacked in information allowing them to take protective measures. An information campaign in France, involving "Le Monde" was initiated by the emergency Ecoropa meeting
United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro. The so-called "Earth Summit" resulted in the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, the Agenda 21, the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the Forest Principles and the Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).