Nuclear Energy and global climate

From: Kenneth Piers <>
Date: Tue Jun 29 2004 - 09:46:29 EDT

Friends: The International Atomic Energy Agency is pessimistic about the
possibilities of installing nuclear energy facilities fast enough to forestall
global warming. This likely also means that we will be unable to look to
nuclear energy to forestall a crisis in oil production.

full story
Nuclear Power `Can't Stop Climate Change'
Jun 27 - Independent on Sunday, The Nuclear power cannot solve global warming,
the international body set up to promote atomic energy admits today.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which exists to spread the
peaceful use of the atom, reveals in a new report that it could not grow fast
enough over the next decades to slow climate change - even under the most
favourable circumstances.

The report - published to celebrate yesterday's 50th anniversary of nuclear
power - contradicts a recent surge of support for the atom as the answer to
global warming.

That surge was provoked by an article in The Independent last month by
Professor James Lovelock - the creator of the Gaia theory - who said that only
a massive expansion of nuclear power as the world's main energy source could
prevent climate change overwhelming the globe.

Professor Lovelock, a long-time nuclear supporter, wrote: "Civilization is in
imminent danger and has to use nuclear - the one safe, available, energy source
- now or suffer the pain soon to be inflicted by our outraged planet."

His comments were backed by Sir Bernard Ingham, Lady Thatcher's former PR
chief, and other commentators, but have now been rebutted by the most
authoritative organization on the matter.

Unlike fossil fuels, nuclear power emits no carbon dioxide, the main cause of
climate change. However, it has long been in decline in the face of rising
public opposition and increasing reluctance of governments and utilities to
finance its enormous construction costs.

No new atomic power station has been ordered in the US for a quarter of a
century, and only one is being built in Western Europe - in Finland. Meanwhile,
Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and Sweden have all pledged to phase out
existing plants.

The IAEA report considers two scenarios. In the first, nuclear energy
continues to decline, with no new stations built beyond those already planned.
Its share of world electricity - and thus its relative contribution to fighting
global warming - drops from its current 16 per cent to 12 per cent by 2030.

Surprisingly, it made an even smaller relative contribution to combating
climate change under the IAEA's most favourable scenario, seeing nuclear power
grow by 70 per cent over the next 25 years. This is because the world would
have to be so prosperous to afford the expansions that traditional ways of
generating electricity from fossil fuels would have grown even faster. Climate
change would doom the planet before nuclear power could save it.

Alan McDonald, an IAEA nuclear energy analyst, told The Independent on Sunday
last night: "Saying that nuclear power can solve global warming by itself is
way over the top." But he added that closing existing nuclear power stations
would make tackling climate change harder.

ken piers

Ken Piers

"Everything should be as simple as possible - but not simpler." A. Einstein

Received on Tue Jun 29 10:05:06 2004

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