The Fate of Nuclear and Climate Change

Written By Brianna Panzica

Posted November 10, 2011

On Wednesday, the International Energy Agency (IEA) released a view of the future of energy in relation to the Fukushima nuclear crisis in Japan and the subsequent decision by Germany to phase out nuclear completely.

As the Agency publicly stated, nuclear power could drop 15% by 2035, calling for higher consumption of coal and fossil fuels.

Bloomberg reported that energy demand worldwide would rise about 40% in that time, and with a decline in nuclear the number of carbon dioxide-releasing fuels would become even more significant.

The IEA warns that climate change must be taken into consideration when considering what to do with nuclear power.

IEA chief economist Fatih Birol told Bloomberg:

“If we do not have an international legally binding agreement soon, and if it doesn’t give a boost to a major investment wave of clean energy technologies by 2017, the door to 2 degrees will be closed forever.”

He was referring to the goal to keep climate change at 2°C, the lowest increase possible.

And as the IEA reported, the 15% decline in nuclear that could occur would require an additional $1.5 trillion per year to keep temperature gains at the goal level.

If nuclear follows that path, energy bills would rise significantly, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The IEA told Bloomberg that it expects oil demand to reach about 99 million barrels a day by 2035.  Last year demand was at 87 million barrels a day.

Coal demand is also increasing, especially in China, the article reports.

A rise in nuclear and alternative energy would do wonders to counter the rise in fossil fuel demands, especially when it comes to the climate.

The IEA expects renewable energy to climb to 15% of total energy by 2035, as it said in its report.  In 2009, it was only 3%.

Energy bills still might increase, especially with decisions on nuclear hanging in the balance.

But climate change would be an even higher price to pay.

That’s all for now,


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