Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), said on 21 June that he had never seen a credible scenario for reducing emissions that did not include nuclear energy. He was speaking at the launch of the World Energy Council's (WEC's) Energy and Climate Change study.
The recent German G8 meeting had "significantly pushed forward" the climate change debate, according to de Boer, and had emphasised the need to reach a new agreement under the UNFCCC by 2009.
Gerald Doucet, general secretary of WEC, said that the "keep all options open" debate had moved on from 'renewables versus fossil' or 'renewables versus nuclear'. The WEC study concludes that all clean energy options will need to be used. In Doucet's view, the main 'nuclear renaissance' would begin to have a significant impact on global greenhouse gas emissions around 2030. In the meantime, the nuclear industry should look to lifetime extensions to help maintain the nuclear contribution to electricity provision.
Kurt Yeager, chair of the WEC Study Group and President Emeritus of the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) said that there was no way the world would combat climate change without "a strong dose of nuclear power." He said that the technologies were available to address issues concerning waste management and proliferation and governments must get on with the job of developing nuclear power so that future generations can make use it.
The WEC Energy and Climate Change report concluded that "all governments should give serious consideration to the potential of nuclear power for reducing greenhouse gas emissions." The study showed that countries that have high proportions of nuclear in their energy systems had greenhouse gas emissions significantly lower than that of comparable nations with less or no nuclear contribution.
The report assessed the contribution of eight technologies for addressing climate change: nuclear energy; renewables; distributed power; energy efficiency; clean coal; combined heat and power; smart electricity control; and carbon capture and storage.
The report concluded that nuclear power is the most technically confident large scale approach to low-carbon power production up to 2050, and a key contributor to the world's clean energy portfolio. As an emissions-free energy source capable of producing electricity on a large scale, the report considered nuclear energy one of the primary global alternatives available to achieve carbon dioxide emissions stabilisation.
The report stressed it was essential to maintain the excellent safety record of nuclear power over the past 20 years and "to launch concerted efforts to win over global public opinion concerning the strategic importance of nuclear power in achieving a confident sustainable energy future."
World Energy Council's Energy and Climate Change report
UNFCCC profile of Yvo de Boer
G8 Summit Heiligendamm: Growth and responsibility in the world economy
WNA's Global Warming - Policy Responses information paper
WNN: G8 reach agreement on climate and energy