1 March 2007 / News N°54

Scientists Tell UN Climate Change Report To ‘Boost Nuclear In Energy Mix’

1 Mar (NucNet): A new report by an international panel of scientific experts endorses the further development of nuclear energy and renewables as part of a global energy mix to fight climate change.

The report for the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs*, released on 27 February 2007 and a copy of which was presented to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, says switching from fossil fuels to renewable and nuclear energy sources is necessary to keep the level of atmospheric CO2 down.

However, the report warns that “a major expansion (of nuclear power) will only be possible if the nuclear industry and its regulators can successfully address concerns about safety, vulnerability to terrorist attack, management of nuclear wastes, and links to nuclear weapon capabilities”.

One of the report’s authors, Diana Uerge-Vorsatz, a professor and Ph.D programme director at the Department of Environmental Sciences and Policy at the Central European University in Budapest, Hungary, told NucNet today: “Certainly nuclear is included in the report because of the part it should play. But the committee had to also point out that the industry first had to clearly explain how problems of spent fuel storage and waste would be dealt with.”

Nuclear fission generation costs are typically 20 percent above those for conventional electricity generation from coal (where coal is cheap), but this differential would shrink or disappear if a substantial price were placed on carbon emissions, the report says.

Among non-fossil alternatives, the report says wind power is the most rapidly growing electricity source worldwide in percentage terms. But while expansion potential for wind power is large “the practical limit may be considerably smaller because of high costs at less windy or more remote sites”.

The report urges policymakers to limit temperature increases from global warming to between 2 and 2.5 degrees Celsius above the 1750 pre-industrial level to avoid a “sharply rising danger of intolerable impacts on humans”, adding: “It is still possible to avoid unmanageable changes in the future, but the time for action is now.”

*The panel of experts that prepared the report was convened by Sigma Xi, the Scientific Research Society. The report, ‘Confronting climate change: avoiding the unmanageable and managing the unavoidable’, can be downloaded from the United Nations Foundation web site (

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>>Related reports in the NucNet database (available to subscribers)

Fossil Fuels Are Primary Source Of Increased CO2,
Says UN Report (World Nuclear Review No. 5, 2
February 2007)

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Source: NucNet

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