The nuclear power industry and its governmental allies are spending tens of millions of dollars annually to promote atomic power as a “clean air” energy source and to encourage the construction of new nuclear reactors in the U.S. and worldwide. With Russia’s ratification of the Kyoto Protocol, thereby putting this important agreement into effect, this industry initiative is expected to increase. If successful, we can expect to see a revival—we would call it a “relapse”-- of reactor construction across the globe. There already are numerous proposals for new reactors on nearly every continent.
Yet nuclear power is not only ineffective at addressing climate change, when the entire fuel chain is examined, nuclear power is found to be a producer of greenhouse gases. Adding enough nuclear power to make a meaningful reduction in greenhouse gas emissions would cost trillions of dollars, create tens of thousands of tons of lethal high-level radioactive waste, contribute to further proliferation of nuclear weapons materials, result in a Chernobyl-scale accident once every decade or so, and, perhaps most significantly, squander the resources necessary to implement meaningful climate change mitigation policies.
In November 2000 the world recognized nuclear power as a dirty, dangerous and unnecessary technology by refusing to give it greenhouse gas credits during the UN Climate Change talks in the Hague. The world dealt nuclear power a further blow when a UN Sustainable Development Conference refused to label nuclear a sustainable technology in April 2001.
This section includes
background information on nuclear power and climate change, documents
from the COP 6 meeting of the Kyoto Protocol held in the Hague and
other materials. This issue is a high priority for the international NIRS/WISE
network, and you can expect to see more materials added here in the coming