Around 25% of electricity in the EU is generated by nuclear power. For some people, that figure is too high. Others, however, argue that nuclear is a vital part of the energy mix if we are to prevent catastrophic climate change. The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Rafael Grossi, argues that nuclear should be seen as complementing renewable energy, not being in competition with it.

Critics of nuclear energy argue it is unsafe and expensive. The 2011 Fukushima disaster massively shook confidence in nuclear technology. The meltdown at the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant was the worst since Chernobyl in Ukraine, 25 years earlier. Nuclear plants are also expensive to set up and decommission, and the costs of storing radioactive waste (effectively indefinitely) also have to be considered.

Supporters of nuclear, however, argue we need to make use of all the energy sources available to us during the transition to renwable energy, because renewables by themselves aren’t yet ready to take over. As Germany phases out nuclear energy, it is replacing it with energy imports and electricity from domestic coal-fired plants. The alternatives to nuclear are coal and natural gas – including unconventional gas resources – and these would be (over the long-run) much more polluting and damaging than nuclear.

What do our readers think? We had a comment sent in from Andrea saying: “We need to fight climate change. That means we need nuclear power more than ever.” Is Andrea right?

To get a response, we put Vera’s comment to Leena Ylä-Mononen, Director General at Finland’s Ministry of the Environment. What would she say?

For another perspective, we also put Andrea’s comment to Matthias Duwe, Head of Climate at the Ecologic Institute, a Berlin-based think tank focusing on environmental research and policy analysis. How would he respond?

Can we tackle climate change without nuclear power? Or will we need to keep all options open to solve the climate crisis? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

IMAGE CREDITS: Unsplash (cc) – Dan Meyers

33 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar

    I Hope greece is coming out of Europe, All this energy oil gas needs to go to russia or china us long Europe doesnt help greece against turkey

  2. avatar

    The big problem is there is no power generation without a negative impact on the environment. Now we can only do without nuclear power generation if the alternatives are sufficiently developed. We have to take into account the advantages and disadvantages. We also have to calculate the future electricity needs of electric cars and the loss of electricity due to the transport of electricity for the necessary complicated and very extensive network expansion.

  3. avatar

    50% nuclear last generation 50% green power will stop climate change for ever

    • avatar

      Climate change never stops, you just have to respect the natural balance of the carbon cycle! The importance of Europe’s energy transition has more to do with making large oil capitalists independent. Everything revolves around money and power. That is the main reason that the obliarchs oppose the transition. Wind and solar energy are only a small part of a solution, you must first and foremost respect the cycle, so make nature liveable again.

    • avatar

      carbon dioxide is not the cause…it’s a result…and it’s needed for the plants, trees….de facto the earth is actually becoming GREENER as carbon dioxide levels are rising…….you go ask a horticulturist…any one of them…they’ll tell ya the plants need it..the more, the better, stronger and faster growing …AND they multiply at a faster rate….our entire carbondioxide exhaust btw has an ‘impact’ that is waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay below 0.0000135% on the entire carbondioxide presence….so….it’s bs

    • avatar

      The climate changes every hour.

  4. avatar

    We need of course nuclear clean Energy. Technologie will come out sooner or later.

    • avatar

      Nuclear clean energy already existed before nuclear energy! The reason why thorolized salt reactors were not used in the past has to do with the plutonium waste that is needed to develop nuclear weapons. It is the capitalist set-up that seeks to utilize the energy transition on all sides to make profits out of it. It is about the natural balance that one must respect! There is also medicinal hemp, this plant is just about the strongest we know at the moment, it can replace plastics, supply fuels, it has a very strong fiber structure and is also 3X more CO2 reducing than for example a forest!

    • avatar

      Spot on!
      All apart from the word “capitalist” we don’t have capitalism, we have corporatism!
      A far more sinister ism, pretending to be some form of libertarian socialism.

  5. avatar

    Yes we need nuclear power for now

  6. avatar

    It is a seriou question for the scientists with discernment.

  7. avatar

    During the ’70s climate was cooling down, now it is warming up… man has nothing to do with this.

  8. avatar

    no, you can not tackle climate change for climate changeS are NOT MANMADE, they happen all the time, have in the past, happening now, will continue to happen in the future whether man is around or not…
    it’s arrogant to assume we are to ‘blame’ for it’…

    • avatar

      climate change has indeed not been made by people, but the speed has been seriously influenced by the use of fossil raw materials and nuclear long-lived waste, this also has seriously disrupted the carbon cycle, destruction of biodiversity, forests, wildlife, etc … development of residential areas and the development of residential areas greed of humanity endangers humanity, the earth will remain livable for at least another 1 trillion year, but in this way it will not be feasible for the ordinary citizen to guarantee his survival! The goals of climate change are not to banish CO2 emissions, but not to make them worse! At the moment, CO2 emissions are still on the rise!

    • avatar

      Oh yes, let’s blame a rise of 4% in a 0.4% gas!
      Ever considered how much ozone is going to be produced by all those electric motors?

    • avatar

      It is arrogant to assume that our pollution has nothing to do with climate change.

    • avatar

      Why do you say that I claim that a 4% increase is due to 0.4% ??? do you want to fill in my vision with numbers to break it down ???🤔🤔🤔 The electric motors that are used in Europe do indeed still cause a lot of environmental pollution. But given the global economy, it is important to make this transition in Europe, since we have no oil stocks. Just look at the wars in the Middle East for power over the oil.😖😖😖

    • avatar

      Pollution and climate change are separate issues!
      If anything it’s pollution which has slowed the climate change.
      Look into the “mass evaporation project” especially the findings from the 9/11 period! It showed that the pollution was actually shielding us from the affects of the sun!

    • avatar

      Ok, I’ll explain, CO2 amount to 0.4% of the atmosphere. That total has increased by 4%. 4% of 0.4% is an insignificant amount and doesn’t deserve the attention it’s getting. That’s the con!
      The energy problem itself is by the by. If the establishment would only release the hydrogen technology, then oil wouldn’t be a problem. But, and it’s a big but! There would be no profit for the establishment releasing that technology and so they don’t!

  9. avatar

    Easy, just release the hydrogen technology!

  10. avatar

    The climate has always changed, why do we need to “tackle” it? There are more pressing issues to resolve.

  11. avatar

    Each and every nuclear plant costs the tax payer €5.000.000 during it’s life. And that’s withoit the huge costs of demantling.

  12. avatar

    yes we can! Can nuclear power tackle new green energy?

  13. avatar

    Nuclear conservatism!Even if thorium technology does progress to the point where it might be commercially viable, it will face the same problems as conventional nuclear: it is not renewable or sustainable and cannot effectively connect to smart grids. The technology is not tried and tested, and none of the main players is interested. Thorium reactors are no more than a distraction.

  14. avatar

    nuclear is good, but I fear that the “democratic struggle against Daesh in Mali” will still continue … a little bit like the fight against Arab dictatorships which will only end when we have no more need oil from these regions …. if you see the parallel ????

  15. avatar
    Catherine Benning

    Can we tackle climate change without nuclear power?

    You cannot tackle climate change ‘with’ nuclear power.

    Please tell the world how the EU deals with nuclear waste it presently has? In fact, how the entire world tackles the nuclear waste it has now.

    It was discussed, many years ago, so I understand, that the only way to rid the planet of nuclear waste was to send it by rocket into the sun. As it simply does not disintegrate ever. It is a permanent pollution. Killing us softly.

  16. avatar

    No more energy in you won’t make it anyway

  17. avatar

    Yes, we need nuclear power to fight the climate crisis, but we should probably concentrate on the near future technology – and already starting to exist in some countries – SMR, small modular reactors. These are cheaper, quicker, safer, more practicable (every city can have its own). If we put a lot of money to make this technology fully employable as soon as possible, we can really make a difference with it, in terms of the climate crisis.

  18. avatar

    One of the proposals to radically cut emissions is to replace fossil fuel engines with electric engines or hydrogen engines. This means shifting a substantial portion of our energy consumption onto the power grid. For hydrogen, to cleanly generate hydrogen fuel by separating it from water is an energy-intensive process in which, as I understand it, only about 60% of the total energy invested is recovered.
    All of this will mean more, not less, energy consumption in the future. If we are serious about climate change we need a serious answer to how we will ramp up energy production without raising emissions. Nuclear power will undoubtedly have to be part of the mix wherever alternatives are not viable. I question whether people who are dogmatically opposed to nuclear power yet supportive of abandoning fossil fuels quite understand the full implications of the latter. The more we dither as people demand nothing short of utopian solutions, the more greenhouse gasses we emit. We need pragmatic solutions to cut emissions now, not ‘some day’.

Your email will not be published

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Notify me of new comments. You can also subscribe without commenting.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

By continuing to use this website, you consent to the use of cookies on your device as described in our Privacy Policy unless you have disabled them. You can change your cookie settings at any time but parts of our site will not function correctly without them.