- Amy Harder
- Nov 21
Nuclear power's climate snubs
Nuclear power provides 30% of the world's zero-carbon emitting electricity and the United Nations has concluded it's just as important as renewables to combating climate change.
Bottom line: Worries about nuclear safety and the storage of radioactive waste, in addition to economic challenges and the plummeting prices of wind and solar has much of the world looking past nuclear energy as a solution to climate change. Having recently returned from global climate meetings in Bonn, Germany, I dug (electronically speaking) through my notes to recount three stark examples showing this.
Money: The United Nations Environment Program initially accepted but ultimately reneged on accepting a request by the World Nuclear Association to sponsor an event on sustainable investing. The U.N. program's executive director, Erik Solheim, told Axios in an email the organization is "nuclear neutral," instead focusing on "the rapid developments of renewable energies like solar, wind, geothermal, hydro and others."
Culture: Generation Atomic, a U.S.-based environmental group advocating nuclear power founded a year ago, tried but failed to get a German movie theater to show a documentary on the topic. According to Eric Meyer, founder of the group, a representative of one theater said screening a pro-nuclear documentary would be "incompatible with our conscience." Germany is phasing out its nuclear power plants, which is one reason why the country isn't on track to meeting its climate goals.
Business: Jeff Moe, global director of energy policy and product advocacy at Ingersoll Rand, a manufacturing company, said the firm is discussing internally whether to include nuclear, on top of renewable energy, as part of its sustainability portfolio going forward. When prodded by me during a panel discussion at the conference, Moe said the company's operations in France are considered clean — largely because France gets 75% of its electricity from nuclear power.