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Nuclear power a hindrance, not a help, to climate change action

text-relevantIs nuclear crucial to climate change targets?, Japan Times,  AFP-JIJI, AP  SEP 16, 2016 text irrelevant 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……

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.

For climate analyst Martin Kaiser of Greenpeace International, “the only feasible and secure way to keep global warming well below 2 degrees Celsius is a massive swing toward renewables.” A “100 percent” renewable energies revolution is still possible, he insisted.

For Williams, potential climate catastrophe trumps the risks associated with nuclear power — radioactive waste, accidents such as happened in Fukushima and Chernobyl — only with strict regulatory oversight in place.

He highlighted the contrast between gold-standard Switzerland and China, which has 30 nuclear plants built or under construction, and another 20 in the pipeline.

“China has relatively understaffed and undertrained regulatory authorities — that is worrisome,” he said.“Would I live next to a nuclear power plant if I thought that was really important to mitigate climate change? “In the first case (Switzerland) I would, but in the second I wouldn’t.”


September 17, 2016 - Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change

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