SOURCE: Nuclear Energy Institute

Nuclear Energy Institute

May 25, 2016 09:35 ET

World Moving in Wrong Direction on Carbon Reduction Goals

Nuclear Energy Vital to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions

MIAMI, FL--(Marketwired - May 25, 2016) - The world is moving farther from its greenhouse gas reduction goals and needs to preserve and expand nuclear energy to achieve meaningful progress, a panel of energy and environmental experts told attendees at the Nuclear Energy Institute's annual meeting today.

Over the past 25 years, despite intense international efforts, "We haven't closed any of this gap between where our carbon footprint is and where we need to be. It doesn't look like we're making much progress," said Lawrence Makovich, vice president and senior advisor for global power at IHS CERA. Makovich moderated the hour-long panel discussion on the climate change threat and displayed charts showing the electric sector carbon footprints of various nations and the world as a whole relative to the trajectory needed to meet emissions reduction goals.

"The world is moving away from the carbon frontier it needs to achieve," said Makovich, noting that the United States has made limited progress largely because the shale gas revolution has led to increased reliance on natural gas instead of coal-fired power plants. The electric sector accounts for about one-third of global carbon emissions. Nuclear energy provides 63 percent of the carbon-free electricity generated in the United States and 32 percent worldwide.

"Nuclear energy is definitely part of this very challenging solution," said Doug Vine, senior energy fellow at the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions. "We really need to think about preserving the nuclear resources."

The panelists noted that electric sector carbon emissions have increased in California and Vermont in recent years following the premature retirements of nuclear power plants in those states, more than offsetting the emissions reductions realized there through years of growth of renewable energy sources.

Former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Christine Todd Whitman said nuclear energy is a "natural place where you could get consensus" on energy and environmental policy. The 99 nuclear energy facilities operating in 30 states are "economic drivers" that cumulatively provide tens of thousands of good-paying jobs while keeping the air clean for people suffering from respiratory problems, she said.

Vine said he is "very surprised" that more environmental organizations do not support nuclear energy. "It feels very much like a no-brainer that nuclear is carbon-free," Vine said.

Jay Faison, founder and chief executive officer of ClearPath, urged the more than 800 conference attendees to reach out to national environmental organizations and call on them to support nuclear energy as a technology to address the climate change threat. The United States has the largest nuclear energy program in the world.

"We are not on a path to solve this thing without the United States. Nuclear energy, if we could pull all the levers, is the number one lever that could be pulled," Faison said. "Our country has always been the one that innovates. We can do this."

The Nuclear Energy Institute is the nuclear energy industry's policy organization. This news release and additional information about nuclear energy are available at www.nei.org.

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