Nuclear Power Won't Help Global Warming Fight

Senior research fellow at the UK's Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, said claims that nuclear power was the only way for Britain to meet demanding greenhouse gas targets were fundamentally wrong.

Published: 18-Jan-2006

nuclear power stations would do little to combat climate change, according to a leading expert who has hit out at what he calls the "abysmal" standard of debate on the issue in the UK.

Kevin Anderson, a senior research fellow at the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, said claims that nuclear power was the only way for Britain to meet demanding greenhouse gas targets were fundamentally wrong. He said: "That argument is way too simplistic. We can easily deal with climate change without nuclear power."

High profile figures including the environmentalist James Lovelock and Sir David King, the government's chief scientific adviser, have said that a new generation of nuclear power stations is the only realistic way for Britain to meet energy demand while cutting carbon dioxide pollution, which contributes to climate change. Existing nuclear power stations generate about 20% of UK electricity and all but one are scheduled to close by 2023.

Dr Anderson said the separate demands of the transport and heating sectors meant that nuclear power supplied only about 3.6% of total UK energy used. Replacing nuclear reactors with gas and coal power stations by 2020 would raise carbon emissions by 4%-8%, he said. "We could very easily compensate for that with moderate increases in energy efficiency. If you've got money to spend on tackling climate change then you don't spend it on supply. You spend it on reducing demand."

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