Wednesday, April 01, 2015

An Obvious Nuclear Role in U.N. Climate Change Goals

UN LogoNot specifically about nuclear energy – or is it?

The White House on Tuesday introduced President Obama’s blueprint for cutting greenhouse gas emissions in the United States by nearly a third over the next decade.

Mr. Obama’s plan, part of a formal written submission to the United Nations ahead of efforts to forge a global climate change accord in Paris in December, detailed the United States’ part of an ambitious joint pledge made by Mr. Obama and President Xi Jinping of China in November.

And how to cut greenhouse gases?

Mr. Obama’s new blueprint brings together several domestic initiatives that were already in the works, including freezing construction of new coal-fired power plants, increasing the fuel economy of vehicles and plugging methane leaks from oil and gas production. It is meant to describe how the United States will lead by example and meet its pledge for cutting emissions.

These are all fine, but this is the bit where nuclear energy enters the picture:

At the heart of the plan are ambitious but politically contentious Environmental Protection Agency regulations meant to drastically cut planet-warming carbon dioxide emissions from the nation’s cars and coal-fired power plants.

And how do you do that without nuclear energy? You don’t because you can’t.

Obviously, all of this is highly contentious and none of it is settled policy. What the executive branch wants to do is not necessarily what the legislative or judicial branches will accept. It wouldn’t even be fair to say that the nuclear industry is fully comfortable with it – most energy companies are not nuclear pure plays and many have holdings that would be sorely impacted.

But looking at this just as a plan on its own – and endorsed by the President – then yes, this plan must find a major role for nuclear energy if it is to have any chance of success. Even swimming the waves of compromise that are likely to form in the months ahead, nuclear energy will be necessary to fulfill this policy goal. It’s as obvious as obvious gets.

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The rise of nuclear energy as a potential energy source has really taken off around the world – these stories don’t reference the U.N. plan, but it may well be lurking as a motivation. The other day, we looked at some moves being made in Africa – specifically, Nigeria, Kenya and Morocco – and this week, well, consider:

Argentina, Bolivia sign agreement to develop nuclear energy – Argentina has a nuclear reactor, Bolivia does not.
To Meet Growing Demand, Jordan Turns to Nuclear Energy – This would be a first reactor. Russia is involved here.

This falls a bit outside our brief, but this is a thing that’s happening. Suggests a certain – momentum, doesn’t it?

1 comment:

Unknown said...

If the Press has accepted the science of climate change it will have to do a much better job at describing the solution which is inevitably nuclear power of some form