Is nuclear crucial to climate change targets?
AFP-JIJI, AP Japan Sep 16, 2016
PARIS – As Britain greenlights its first new nuclear power plant in more than 20 years, experts diverge on the role of nuclear energy in the quest to cap global warming at less than 2 degrees Celsius. The broad challenge in meeting that goal — the cornerstone of the Paris Agreement inked in December by 195 nations — is decarbonizing the world economy as quickly as possible.
“We need a global transition to primarily zero carbon energy sources by midcentury,” said Rachel Cleetus, lead economist and climate policy manager for the Washington-based Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). Along with other think tanks and advocacy groups sounding the climate change alarm, the UCS is not a champion of nuclear power. But with fossil fuels still accounting for 80 percent of total energy consumption, they say, the splitting or fusing of atoms — despite concerns about cost and safety — still has a role to play.
….Not all climate and energy experts, however, are convinced that nuclear is crucial for keeping a lid on global warming. “In fact, it’s a barrier,” said Tom Burke, chairman of London-based E3G, a climate change think tank. “It takes away capital from things that would deliver faster, cheaper and smarter low carbon electricity systems,” he said. It also runs counter, he added, to a wider trend toward decentralized, flexible power generation….