Wednesday, 16 September 2020

Why nuclear power does not help combat climate change

Letter submitted to the Guardian: Justin Bowen, national officer of the GMB trades union, is totally wrong to assert that ‘new nuclear is vital to achieving decarbonisation.” ( ”Hitachi to pull plug on north Wales nuclear power station,” business, 16 September 2020). Nuclear power will not provide any useful dent in curbing harmful emissions, as when the carbon footprint of its full uranium ‘fuel chain’ is considered- from uranium mining, milling, enrichment ( which is highly energy intensive), fuel fabrication, irradiation, radioactive waste conditioning, storage, packaging to final disposal – nuclear power's CO2 emissions are between 10 to 18 times greater than those from renewable energy technologies, according to a recent study by Mark Jacobson, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford University, California. ( In an international webinar held last Friday ( 11 September 2020) by the global nuclear lobbying group, the World Nuclear Association, one nuclear industry leader, Jay Wileman, President and CEO of GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy - the US arm of the Japanese corporation - no less than five times falsely described nuclear power as “carbon-free”, a mantra he clearly believes if repeated often enough will convince politicians and the public. It will not, and seems no longer even convinces the Board and chief finance officer of his parent company in Tokyo. An important new report collectively issued by six UK Parliamentary committees on 10 September, titled “The path to net zero”, prepared by a group of scientifically selected representative British citizens named the ‘Climate Assembly’ ( concluded after over six months detailed collaborative work that 46% of participants strongly disagreed nuclear could play a part towards reaching a net zero carbon economy by 2050, with a further 18% undecided. Amongst the reasons for the scepticism were “cost, safety, and issues around waste storage and decommissioning.”

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