WASHINGTON—Developing countries will have difficulty reaching international emission reduction targets to combat the threat of global warming without the clean air benefits of nuclear energy, says an international statement on sustainable energy released at the United Nations summit on climate change.
Nuclear energy projects should be included as a clean development mechanism (CDM), one of the measures under Kyoto Protocol intended to encourage the transfer of technologies to developing nations that limit or avoid greenhouse gas emissions and contribute to sustainable development. The mechanism is a form of emissions trading that would allow industrialized nations to gain credits for pursuing clean energy technology.
In a statement addressed to government delegates meeting November 13-24 in The Hague, the Nuclear Energy Institute and other members of the International Nuclear Forum (INF) said that the exclusion of any technology would be “to the detriment” of the developing countries participating in the CDM program.
“The CDM program will not effectively eliminate carbon emissions unless this incentive is available to all categories of technology and projects needed for sustainable development. Foremost among these technology needs—without which sustained economic growth will not occur—is large-scale, baseload, electricity generation for urban populations,” the INF said in the statement.
“The cleanest choice for such baseload electricity is nuclear energy. Nuclear energy plants as CDM projects would avoid significant adverse impacts on the environment, and transfer an important technology for economic development.”
INF’s statement on nuclear energy’s role in sustainable development makes the following points:
All technology options may be required and should remain available;
CDM activity should be not be limited by project ‘lists’;
Countries have the sovereign right to determine their own development paths;
Each country’s energy decisions should not be restricted by international policy; and
Requirements for sustainable development can be determined only at the national level, where domestic needs are best understood.
More than 100 nuclear power plants were responsible for nearly half of the total voluntary reductions in greenhouse gas emissions reported by U.S. companies in 1998, according to the Energy Information Administration of the U.S. Department of Energy. Nuclear plants avoided 100 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, while the combined industrial reduction for the year was 212 million metric tons.
Three U.S. Senators said in a Nov. 17 letter to President Clinton that the global community “must have unfettered access to all technologies that can reduce or avoid the production of greenhouse gases, and provide the tools for economic development necessary to improve worldwide standards of living.” The letter was signed by senators Bob Smith, chairman of the Environmental and Public Works Committee; Frank Murkowski, chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee; and James Inhofe, chairman of the Clean Air Subcommittee of the Environment and Public Works Committee.
“We are writing you, Mr. President, to ensure that the United States takes no action that undermines the development, sale, export and use of advanced American technology around the world and at home to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases,” the letter said. “Examples of such advanced technology include, but are not limited to, electricity generation from cleaner coal, nuclear, hydroelectric and combined cycle natural gas and transportation advances, such as low- or zero-emission vehicles.”
A U.S. official participating in the climate change negotiations told Nucleonics Week (Sept. 28, 2000) that “there is no way we are going to allow nuclear power to be excluded from the CDM.” The European Union is calling for agreement at COP 6 on a list of CDM projects that does not include nuclear energy or large-scale hydroelectric plants.
However, several countries and world business leaders oppose proposed limits on the eligibility and use of different technologies. EU Energy Commissioner Loyola de Palacio said last week “Nuclear is clean under the Kyoto aims. That’s a fact. From my point of view, it’s very clear and no one can say under a rational and logical approach any different.”
“From the environmental point of view (nuclear energy) cannot be rejected if we want to maintain our Kyoto commitments,” de Palacio said. She also warned that “very important and radical” choices would have to be made and the EU would have to address five key issues in order to meet its targets, one of which is to include the use of nuclear energy.
The Nuclear Energy Institute is the nuclear energy industry’s policy organization. This news release and additional information about nuclear energy are available on NEI’s Internet site at http://www.nei.org .