It is often argued that nuclear energy is carbon neutral and therefore an ideal alternative to fossil fuels in the fight against climate change. This has led to extensive government subsidization of nuclear power plants and significant political support for increasing our nuclear energy usage. When investigated in detail, however, it becomes clear that nuclear energy is neither carbon neutral nor an efficient method of producing electricity.
Although the only outputs of a nuclear power plant are heat and radioactive waste, nuclear energy is not entirely carbon neutral. Nuclear energy’s carbon footprint is indirectly increased by the other steps involved in its production, (construction, mining, transportation, storage, etc). While it is low-carbon compared to processes involving oil or coal, it generates far more greenhouse gases than electricity produced from sustainable sources like solar or wind.
Nuclear energy is also incredibly expensive and plants can almost only be built with government subsidies. In addition, nuclear energy is neither sustainable nor finite. Investment into sustainable energy would be a much more efficient choice in the long run.
The other huge problem with nuclear energy is the dangers that go along with it. There is currently no ideal method of dealing with the radioactive waste. And, despite the precautions, accidents are always a threat and a repeat of the Chernobyl disaster is not unlikely. This section uses these points to argue against the use of nuclear energy in the battle against climate change and push for further investment into sustainable energy production.
- Climate Change and Nuclear Power 2014, International Atomic Energy Agency
- Climate Change and Nuclear Power 2012, International Atomic Energy Agency
- Climate Change and Nuclear Power 2011, International Atomic Energy Agency
- Holdren on Climate Change, Nuclear Energy, and Geo-Engineering by Matthew C. Nisbet, Ph.D., May 11 2009
- Nuclear Energy: The Answer to Climate Change or a Recipe for Weapons Proliferation? by Dr. Herman Scheer for the Global Security Institute and Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament, 2008
- Nuclear Energy: Assessing the Emissions by Kurt Kleiner, September 24, 2008
- Nuclear Power and Mitigating Climate Change by Thomas B. Cochran, Ph.D., April 23 2008
- Summary for Policymakers by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, 2007
- Fact Sheet: Nuclear Power Plants Are Unlikely to Provide Significant Low-Carbon Energy (from the Natural Resources Defense Council), February 2007
- Landscape, Environment and Community Impacts of Nuclear Power by the Sustainable Development Commission (UK), March 2006
- Nuclear Power: No Solution to Climate Change by the World Information Service on Energy and the Nuclear Information & Resource Service, February 2005