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Climate Scientists Call for Even Playing Field for Nuclear at COP21

Four reknowned climate scientists came together at the COP21 climate conference in Paris on December 3 to urge the world to "rise above prejudices and agendas" to ensure a level playing field for nuclear energy. Dr. Ken Caldeira began the press conference, hosted by Energy for Humanity's Kirsty Gogan, by admonishing, "We have to stop using the sky as a waste dump." He urged that nuclear must be allowed to compete on its merits rather than pushing it off the table due to prejudices.

Dr. Kerry Emanuel noted that the four speakers came together because "we are scientists and we can do the math. The reality is that we must ramp up nuclear fast." He added that the climate protection numbers "don't add up without nuclear in the mix."  He said that "we must stop thinking of '50s and '60s (nuclear) technology," adding that new nuclear technologies are "genuinely exciting."

Dr. Tom Wigley pointed out that "the decisions we make in the next ten to fifteen years will determine what we can do in the future." He urged that "we can't close the door to any technology," and said they are working to educate the public by providing engineering and scientific facts.

Dr. James Hansen said he feels there are "some tremendous injustices" in the climate change discussion when it comes to nuclear energy. "Nuclear has one of the smallest carbon footprints of all the energy sources," he said, adding that this is contrary to public perceptions.

During media questioning, Dr. Emanuel responded to an inquiry about the time it takes to build new nuclear plants, saying "it's better than not doing anything. We can scale solar and wind to a limit, then we hit a barrier. We have to understand the limitations (of solar and wind)." He also pointed out that all forms of power include some risk. Dr. Caleira noted that "there is a change in this COP that nations are bringing in nuclear to meet their climate goals." The goal is not to make a renewable energy system, it is to make the most environmentally friendly system possible."


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