Below is the abstract from a new study that demonstrates that high national commitments to nuclear are correlated with less reduction in national emissions:
Andrew Lawrence, Benjamin Sovacool, and Andrew Stirling. 2016. Nuclear energy and path dependence in Europe’s ‘Energy union’: coherence or continued divergence? Climate Policy Vol. 16 , Iss. 5, 2016 http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/14693062.2016.1179616?needAccess=true
ABSTRACTI think that the questions of political participation, control, and power in energy policy are the key ones.
Since its initial adoption, the EU’s 2020 Strategy – to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 20%, increase the share of renewable energy to at least 20% of consumption, and achieve energy savings of 20% or more by 2020 – has witnessed substantial albeit uneven progress.
This article addresses the question of what role nuclear power generation has played, and
can or should play in future, towards attaining the EU 2020 Strategy, particularly with reference to decreasing emissions and increasing renewables.
It also explores the persistent diversity in energy strategies among member states. To do so, it first surveys the current landscape of nuclear energy use and then presents the interrelated concepts of path dependency, momentum, and lock-in.
The article proceeds to examine five factors that help explain national nuclear divergence: technological capacity and consumption; economic cost; security and materiality; national perceptions; and political, ideological and institutional factors. This divergence reveals a more general weakness in the 2020 Strategy’s underlying assumptions.
Although energy security – defined as energy availability, reliability, affordability, and sustainability – remains a vital concern for all member states, the 2020 Strategy does not explicitly address questions of political participation, control, and power.
The inverse relationship identified here – between intensity of nuclear commitments, and emissions mitigation and uptake of renewable sources – underscores the importance of increasing citizens’ levels of energy policy awareness and participation in policy design.
Decision making is centralized and revolving door politics typically result in the convergence of industry and government approaches to energy policy.
I have demonstrated through my published research, especially my recent book on crisis communications, that elite decision making regarding nuclear energy is the most centralized and least responsive to public concerns and demands for accountability.
Lawrence, Sovacool, and Stirling also recognize this point when they write:
"Nuclear commitments can have the effect of reinforcing institutional structures, market practices, and operating procedures that militate against a move to renewable energy technologies of kinds that arguably offer a more effective long-term basis for achieving low-carbon energy futures" (p. 623)Nuclear policy making across the globe in the wake of the Fukushima crisis demonstrates nuclear insanity in policy making.
For example, today I read articles about China's push into nuclear exports:
AP. 2016. China sets sights on new global export: nuclear energy. August 24, 2016 http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201608240061.htmlDoesn't that sound like a good idea? It seems kind of like China's telling the world: We have arrived, as you can see by our capacity to export the phallus!
BEIJING--On a seaside field south of Shanghai, workers are constructing a nuclear reactor that is the flagship for Beijing's ambition to compete with the United States, France and Russia as an exporter of atomic power technology.
Today I also read about the push for small scale, modular nuclear reactors despite risks, costs, and the unresolved problem of nuclear waste:
Nuclear developers have big plans for small power plants in U.K. Reuters Aug 25, 2016 http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/08/25/business/nuclear-developers-big-plans-small-power-plants-u-k/#.V78OyKKYK5oYou can see the future: waste from decentralized nuclear energy leaking everywhere!
There is simply no effective and cost-efficient way of containing waste!
The US's first Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, WIPP, had an explosion and leaked plutonium and americium into the environment in 2014. You can read the "official" account here: http://www.wipp.energy.gov/wipprecovery/accident_desc.html
It is anticipated that the WIPP disaster is going to cost more than $2 billion to clean up:
Megan Geuss. 2016, August 23. Nuclear waste accident 2 years ago may cost more than $2 billion to clean up [updated]. Los Angeles Times says fixing the dump is a political imperative. http://arstechnica.com/science/2016/08/nuclear-waste-accident-2-years-ago-may-cost-more-than-2-billion-to-clean-up/The problem of nuclear waste management alone precludes nuclear from being a viable, sustainable energy solution.
Yet, despite clear evidence for the irrationality of nuclear, policy makers and industry continue to promote its dangerous energies.