Nuclear Energy and Climate Change

January 21, 2008

By Felix Chr. Matthes

Nuclear Issues Paper No. 6
By Felix Chr. Matthes

The complete paper (51 pages, 265 KB, pdf) can be downloaded here.

Preface by Jörg Haas

Climate change is undoubtedly one of the biggest challenges of the 21st Century. Although it has been an encouraging signal that the Kyoto Protocol entered into force, and that the European Emissions Trading System is working well, mankind’s response to tackle this challenge is far from being up to the task.
Big challenges require big, concerted efforts. Do they, however, also require big, expensive and risky technologies that were developed half a century ago? In other words: Does addressing climate change require us to reconsider nuclear energy?

As Felix Matthes convincingly demonstrates in this paper, there is a whole portfolio of lower-risk options available to fight climate change. Investing in nuclear energy carries not only considerable health, financial and security risks, it may also prove to be a dangerous lock-in and dead end. Twenty years after the nuclear disaster of Chernobyl, any attempts by the nuclear industry to celebrate its revival and to paint itself as the solution to climate change should be rejected. Policy makers around the world should learn from its people, who largely resist the use of nuclear energy.
We firmly believe that nuclear energy is no answer to climate change. A short-sighted renaissance of nuclear energy would require considerable amounts of public money, which should rather be invested in the development and deployment of renewable energy technologies and energy efficiency measures.
We therefore present this 6th Nuclear Issues Paper as a contribution to the public debate on adequate responses to climate change and on the future of nuclear energy.