Earth Institute director and top economist Jeffrey Sachs says the world has no option but to embrace nuclear power, if climate change is to be effectively combated.

Mr Sachs believes that the urgency of the climate change issue and immaturity of renewable energy industry leave little choice but to accept nuclear power as the solution.

Jeffrey Sachs
“We won’t meet the carbon targets if nuclear is taken off the table. Fossil fuel prices will remain low enough to wreck [low-carbon energy] unless you have incentives and [carbon] pricing.

“Emissions per unit of energy need to fall by a factor of six. That means electrifying everything that can be electrified and then making electricity largely carbon-free. It requires renewable energy, nuclear and carbon capture and storage – these are all very big challenges. We need to understand the scale of the challenge.”

Sachs warned that “nice projects” around the world involving renewable power or energy efficiency would not be enough to stave off the catastrophic effects of global warming.

“We are nowhere close to that – as wishful thinking and corporate lobbies are much more powerful than the arithmetic of climate scientists,” he told the Asian Development Bank meeting in Manila, the Philippines.

In recent weeks a group of four prominent UK environmentalists, including Jonathon Porritt and former heads of Friends of the Earth UK Tony Juniper and Charles Secrett, have been campaigning against nuclear, arguing that it is unnecessary, dangerous, too expensive, and in Porritt’s words “nothing like as reliable as the industry would have us believe.”

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