Image courtesy of Wolfgang Stemme/Pixabay

Nuclear energy: a distraction on the road to climate solutions

By Sharon Squassoni, November 15, 2021

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Image courtesy of Wolfgang Stemme/Pixabay

Climate news has not been good this year. Extreme weather phenomena provided the backdrop for the August release of the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which warned that “[g]lobal warming of 1.5°C and 2°C will be exceeded during the 21st century unless deep reductions in CO2 and other greenhouse gas emissions occur in the coming decades.” Keeping the rise in temperature to 1.5 degrees Celsius will require getting to net zero emissions by 2032. In short, more needs to happen, and happen quickly, to avoid the worst climate catastrophes.

Despite its low-carbon virtues, nuclear energy is anything but quick. In the race to net-zero emissions, nuclear energy remains at the starting line. Continuing to support nuclear energy at the expense of faster and cheaper alternatives for cutting greenhouse gas emissions is a losing strategy.

Acknowledgments

Special thanks to Sydney Hamilton of George Washington University, for her research assistance with the article, which received support from the MacArthur Foundation.

As the coronavirus crisis shows, we need science now more than ever.

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