Nuclear paranoia will wipe out EU's planned emissions cuts


It’s the environmentalists’ worst nightmare – the choice between fossil fuel power stations, which emit carbon dioxide – allegedly harmful to the climate, on the one hand, or nuclear, zero emissions but feared and loathed in equal measure, on the other.

They are sitting on the extremely sharp and painful horns of an insoluble dilemma.

It is one year since the Japanese earthquake and tsunami that put the Fukushima nuclear power plant out of action. The resilience of Fukushima to such an event, however, convinced even George Monbiot to support nuclear power, since in his view it is by far the lesser of two evils.

But knee-jerk reactions of certain countries, Germany in particular, to withdraw nuclear power stations from the grid, will actually increase fossil fuel emissions, and cancel out all their painful and costly efforts to curb emissions:

One of the less-noted consequences of the nuclear disaster at Fukushima is the effect on carbon dioxide emissions. Two of the world’s six largest emitters are switching off their nuclear power stations, leaving them needing to source energy from elsewhere.

Germany has permanently shut eight of its older nuclear reactors and promised to close the remaining nine by 2022. The decision was cemented in September, when Siemens, which built all of Germany’s nuclear plants, withdrew from the nuclear industry. It also seems increasingly unlikely that Japan will restart the more than 50 nuclear reactors that have been closed for safety checks since the accident. Last week, the cities of Osaka, Kyoto and Kobe told utility companies that they no longer wanted nuclear power.

Elsewhere, the impact has been lower than many anticipated. The US and UK still intend to resume building nuclear power after a long pause. China, India and France all aim to carry on as before. Italy and Switzerland have decided to abandon plans for future plants, but existing plants will live out their remaining lives.

All told, that is nearly a billion-tonne jolt to the planet’s climate by 2020, and more beyond. That is small compared with global CO2 emissions – likely to be more than 400 billion tonnes in the same period. But it would send the wrong signal from two of the world’s largest emitters. And anyone involved in climate negotiations will tell you that cuts aren’t easy to agree on. The additional German emissions alone could add up to more than 300 million tonnes by 2020, which, according to the World Nuclear Association, would “virtually cancel out the 335-million-tonne savings intended to be achieved in the entire European Union by the 2011 Energy Efficiency Directive”. (source)

Oops. If the environmentalists are so concerned about the dangers of catastrophic AGW, then they really should get their priorities right.


  1. Lin Anderson via Facebook says:


  2. What happened to the thorium (I think that’s the name) reactors? Don’t like the current reactors, simply because. If there is a major CME from the sun and it hits a Continent. All reactors shall melt down due to there being no power! 😀 I somehow doubt they are encased in lead shielding, that’s there only hope of survival. But we should be quiet about that 😉 might cause panic!

  3. cant make bombs out of thorium reactor byproducts…simple as that…

  4. Glen Balmer via Facebook says:

    Cold Fusion!

  5. I’d be having a lot more than just a “knee jerk” reaction if a reactor was built in my backyard !

  6. seems to work in france…

  7. Robert Anthony via Facebook says:

    well as they should there is always thorium when will they start talking more about this option which beats uranium hands down

  8. Simon.
    Don’t be silly. A zillion Windmills and 10 million sq miles of Solar panels will develop all the power the EU will require. The only trick part is where will the people live and do business? A minor technicality for the brilliant minds at the EU, here a great idea EUGENICS THAT MAKE tiny little vegans THAT TAKE UP LESS ROOM AND PRODUCE LESS C02!

  9. I see that Doug Cotton is pushing his pseudo-scientific article wherever and whenever he can but shies away from trying to get it published in a proper scientific journal where it will be reviewed by scientists who know what they are talking about. Instead he has had to resort to having his article published by that insignificant publishing company Principia Scientific International.

    Anyone interested can find out more about this on Professor Judith Curry’s “Letter to the dragon slayers” thread (

    Best regards, Pete Ridley

    • Pete, I am firmly in what would be called the “lukewarm” camp. This blog acknowledges the existence of the GH effect. The issue is with the magnitude of the warming effect as governed by feedbacks.

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