America, climate change, and the world: misplaced rancor over Bush’s refusal to play in the Kyoto sandbox

Germany’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions have gone up over the past few years, in spite of its full support of the Kyoto Treaty and participation in the European Emission Trading Scheme (ETS). It demands that America, the world’s largest consumer of fossil fuels and largest emitter of GHGs, join Kyoto.

And yet Germany opposes nuclear power. Nuclear, as I have argued in this blog, is by far the best way to provide utility scale emission-free electricity.

America, on the other hand, supports civilian nuclear power. Moreover, it has proposed a roadmap for recycling nuclear fuel (the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership, or GNEP). If successful, the GNEP would extend the usefulness of nuclear fuel while strengthening global efforts against weapons proliferation.

Kyoto’s aims are admirable. However, its adherents have allowed it to degenerate into a politically correct pissing match, where lip service has become more important than actual emission reductions. Germany’s pious anti-nuclear position is a perfect example of this.

Insisting that the entire western world move in lock-step on climate change, while opposing the most promising emission-reduction technology, is simply unrealistic. Bush, for all his faults, is at least demonstrating sound leadership in resisting inane conformity. Canada doesn’t need to outright refuse Kyoto as Bush has done. But we should borrow some of his measures to expand civilian nuclear power (see article).

Nuclear weapons proliferation and climate change are the two biggest dangers facing humanity. Kyoto addresses only one. The GNEP addresses both.

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Randal Leavitt
16 years ago

There are lots of dangers facing humanity. D. Lightfoot thinks that running out of oil is a bigger problem than climate change:

Even so, he reaches the same conclusion – we have to use more nuclear power.

Steve Aplin
16 years ago

Nobody’s Fuel: interesting, thanks Randal. He says the world must consume more energy, not less. I agree. The conservation crowd emphasizes the wrong end of things. Of course we should use energy efficiently, but the bottom line is we need it. Who would deny that poor African countries would benefit immensely from widespread electrification? Even a modern industrial jurisdiction like Ontario needs more generation capacity: when plug-in hybrids take off (and they will), electricity will take the place of petroleum as the primary motive fuel for cars.

If we can get 100 times more out of uranium by recycling the fuel, we could shift significant amounts of world power generation to nuclear without jeopardizing the world uranium supply.