World Leaders To Debate Role Of Nuclear Power At U.N. Climate Summit via NPR

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NPR’s Robert Siegel talks with Matthew Bunn, a nuclear and energy policy analyst and professor of practice at the Harvard Kennedy School, about the role nuclear power will play in the future. As world leaders meet in Paris for the U.N. climate summit, they discuss if countries are moving away or toward nuclear energy and and given safety and budget concerns, whether atomic power makes sense anymore.


SIEGEL: We hear a lot of advocacy of renewable energy, President Obama spoke specifically of solar energy. Is there any advocacy these days for nuclear power at, say, the talks in Paris?

BUNN: Oh, absolutely. Both the United States and quite a number of other countries are pushing nuclear hard as one of the clean energy options that are available. It doesn’t – like wind or solar, it doesn’t emit carbon and it also doesn’t emit the local air pollution that can cause smoggy skies and deaths as you see in Beijing or New Delhi or the other cities of the developing world.

SIEGEL: In France, CO2 emissions per capita are significantly lower than ours – or Canada’s, for that matter – and yet the French are trying to turn away a bit from nuclear power. Is that all about Fukushima?

BUNN: Not entirely. France is only turning away a little, but they’re certainly not turning away on a large scale from nuclear power. There are countries that are. Germany has decided to phase out its nuclear power plants and a number of other – the smaller markets have done that as well. But after Fukushima, the big markets there are really building plants today – China, India, Russia, South Korea – took a pause, looked at their safety regulations, decided to strengthen them in a few places and then said, we’re moving ahead.

SIEGEL: Even before the Fukushima accident, there were obviously concerns about disposing of nuclear waste. Has there been any progress over the past several decades about nuclear waste disposal?

BUNN: There has in other countries, not in the United States. In Finland, for example, they became the first country to cite a nuclear waste repository with the complete support of the community where it’s going to be. In the United States, President Obama canceled the project for a nuclear waste repository in Nevada at a place called Yucca Mountain. He then appointed a commission to make recommendations about what we should do, and they came up with some very sensible ideas, including a more democratic process where you would not have a nuclear waste repository anywhere that didn’t want it. But their recommendations require Congress to act, and Congress has not yet acted.

SIEGEL: How dependent on nuclear energy is the U.S.?

BUNN: The United States gets between 15 and 20 percent of its electricity from nuclear energy, and the world gets about 15 percent, on average, of its electricity from nuclear energy. The key question with respect to climate is can nuclear energy grow enough to be an important part of the answer to climate change? But I think we should be doing everything we can to find answers to cutting its cost, to better financing of nuclear plants, to ensuring safety and security and managing the nuclear waste so that it can be an expandable answer.

Continue reading at World Leaders To Debate Role Of Nuclear Power At U.N. Climate Summit

ref. Listen to the interview of Dave Kraft of Nuclear Energy Information Service on why nuclear energy cannot be a solution for the climate change. Also aired on NPR (WBEZ) in January 2015. –>An end to nuclear power in Illinois? via WBEZ

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