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Climate Change

To move toward a clean-energy, low-carbon economy, nuclear energy must continue to be a part of the energy mix.

Nuclear energy facilities produce no air pollution that could threaten our atmosphere by causing ground-level ozone formation, smog and acid rain. The principal greenhouse gas emitted by human activities is carbon dioxide, and about 40 percent of our CO2 emissions come from burning fossil fuels to generate electricity. More nuclear energy means less air pollution.

 

 

There is widespread agreement that nuclear energy is part of the climate change solution. Mainstream analyses conducted by independent organizations have shown that reducing carbon emissions will require a diverse energy portfolio and that nuclear energy is the only low-carbon option to help meet forecasted global electricity demand.

Resources

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, "EPA Analysis of the American Power Act of 2010 (Kerry/Lieberman), June 2010.  The core policy scenario for reducing greenhouse gas emissions would require more than doubling total nuclear capacity by 2050.  If all existing U.S. operating reactors retire at 60 years, the United States will need to build another 253 gigawatts of nuclear capacity (about 181 new reactors).

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, EPA Analysis of the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (H.R. 2454, Waxman/Markey),” June 2009. The core policy scenario for reducing greenhouse gas emissions projects that the United States will increase nuclear power generation by 150% (about 180 new nuclear reactors) by 2050.

Joint Statement of the Academies of Science for the G8+5 Countries, “Climate Change Adaptation and the Transition to a Low Carbon Economy,” 2008. The statement recommends accelerating the transition to a “low carbon economy,” producing more energy from such low-carbon sources as nuclear power. 

Electric Power Research Institute, Prism/MERGE Analyses: 2009 Update.”  The technical potential exists for the electric sector to achieve a 41 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions from 2005 levels by 2030 using a full portfolio of technologies that includes 45 new nuclear reactors.

Energy Information Administration, Energy Market and Economic Impacts of H.R. 2454, the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009,” August 2009. The basic scenario projects that the United States would need 96 gigawatts of new nuclear capacity (almost 70 reactors) by 2030.

OECD/International Energy Agency, World Energy Outlook 2009,” 2009. Stabilizing atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide at 450 parts per million would require nearly doubling nuclear capacity by 2030.

Business Roundtable,The Balancing Act: Climate Change, Energy Security and the U.S. Economy," 2009. “As the only existing, proven and scalable low-carbon baseload generation technology, nuclear power will be critical to managing the impending turnover in baseload capacity in a sustainable manner.”

World Business Council for Sustainable Development, Towards a Low-Carbon Economy,” 2009. “Existing technologies such as … nuclear have to be extensively deployed across countries to implement concrete mitigation actions.”