by Katherine Berezowskyj
In his speech to the United Nations, Chinese president Hu Jintao discussed the goals that China has for reducing its CO2 emissions. Proclaiming that China “will further integrate our actions on climate change into our economic and social development tasks,” including actions to “develop renewable energy and nuclear energy.”
Just beating out the United States, China ranks as the world’s number emitter of CO2. But China is taking emissions reductions seriously, and they are choosing nuclear energy to play a major role in energy generation, with 16 reactors currently under construction. Moreover, China has said that plans to build well over 100 reactors over the next 20 years in order to both reduce CO2 emissions and meet the country’s sky-rocketing energy demands.
But resting in position number two, the United States has been much more hesitant to see new nuclear energy construction, even though we facing similar energy generation needs and carbon-reduction goals.
Senator Lamar Alexander recently discussed the issue, saying that “there are 40 reactors now under construction in 11 countries around the world, none of them in the United States.” With China, Russia, India ─all major polluters─ turning towards nuclear energy in recent years, the United States has “shied away from the technology while everyone else has forged ahead,” he noted.
Alexander also points out that “even Europe is coming back. …. France already gets 80 percent of its power from nuclear and has the cheapest electricity in Europe ─not to mention the second lowest carbon emissions (behind Sweden, which is half nuclear).”
Just as the U.S. Congress is about to take up the discussion of important legislation to determine how we will tackle the problems of climate change, these examples from many of the world’s major countries show that adding nuclear energy to the mix is essential.
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