NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


July 27, 2006

If human use of fossil fuels (coal, oil and natural gas) is largely responsible for global warming -- and this warming is reasonably likely to cause harms that society would like to avoid or minimize -- the technologies that fuel the world's economies must be reassessed.  In particular, nuclear power could be the best choice to reduce the climate change risks posed by fossil fuels, say by Pete Geddes, executive vice president of the Foundation for Research on Economics and the Environment (FREE), and H. Sterling Burnett, a senior fellow with the National Center for Policy Analysis.

Despite opposition, nuclear power currently produces much of the electric power in developed countries:

  • Nuclear power provides about 75 percent of the electricity in France and 20 percent in the United States.
  • With 434 operating reactors worldwide, nuclear power meets the electrical needs of more than a billion people.
  • China alone is planning to build 30 nuclear reactors over the next five years.
  • However, the use of nuclear power to generate electricity could be vastly expanded.

Combating climate change requires creative thinking about the world's energy needs.  For the short to medium term, fossil fuels will continue to meet most of the world's energy demand, but nuclear power holds the most promise as a clean, practical alternative that could help satisfy the world economy's growing demand for energy while slowing the growth in demand for CO2-emitting fossil fuels, say Geddes and Burnett.

Source: Pete Geddes and H. Sterling Burnett, "Constructive Thinking about

Climate Change, Part I: Energy," National Center for Policy Analysis, Brief Analysis No. 564, July 27, 2006.

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