Catching Two European Problems with One Renewable Energy Stone

 

by Sam Peterson

Many studies support the finding climate change is deemed a relevant and important issue by the public, but frequently disappears from the public consciousness when individuals are not directly impacted by its effects, supplanted by more immediate economic and geopolitical issues. Rather than removing it from public concern, Creutizig et al. aim to attack environmental concerns and socioeconomic problems concurrently, with a sweeping energy policy change. Creutzig et al. (2014) argue climate change and the European Union (EU) periphery’s economic recession could be mitigated and solved, respectively, by having member country legislators focus efforts on a policy transition toward sustainable, nonconventional sources of energy. Continue reading

Nuclear Power, Climate Change and Energy Security in Britain

by Sam Peterson

The relationship between climate change and present energy consumption (in addition to anticipation of future energy needs) has increasingly bordered on mutual exclusivity. Following significant revelations regarding the correlation between emissions from fossil fuel incineration and average global temperature increases, legislators have struggled to reframe alternative energy source debates in a more favorable light. A major topic in these debates is nuclear power, easily the most divisive of environmentally-friendly energy sources. Policymakers have reframed nuclear power as a low-carbon technology, but Corner et al. (2011) find unconditional acceptance of nuclear power practically nonexistent in a national survey in Britain. In general, “people who expressed greater concern about climate change and energy security and possessed higher environmental values were less likely to favour nuclear power.” However, when subjects were allowed to express their conditional support, “concerns about climate change and energy security became positive predictors of support for nuclear power.” The study concludes that acceptance of nuclear power will increase conditionally, as “other (preferred) options have been exhausted.” Continue reading

Climate Change or Nuclear Power in Britain

by Sam Peterson

Policymakers have been challenged to formulate and introduce innovative new legislation following major international environmental awareness agreements, such as the Kyoto Protocol of 1992 (a treaty created by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change), but public opinion shifts have frequently trailed a growing scientific consensus regarding climate change. Pidgeon et. al. (2005) find that when presented with the options of a transition from burning carbon-based fuels to the daunting spectacle of nuclear power or an increased rate of climate change, much of the British public is indecisive. The study finds that the British public is “prepared to accept nuclear power if they believe it contributes to climate change mitigation,” but this is a “highly conditional view.” There is only “reluctant acceptance” of utilization of nuclear power by policymakers, mostly due to the risks of nuclear power production. Continue reading

Economics of Nuclear Power and Climate Change Mitigation Policies

by Sam Peterson

The availability of nuclear power may be crucial in determining whether greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions can be reduced enough to reach the goal of limiting worldwide temperature increases to 2°C. The aforementioned goal, established during a 2009 United Nations climate change conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, appears contingent on the ability of nuclear power to generate electricity without GHG emissions (UNFCCC, 2009). In a 2012 study of the economics of nuclear power generation, Bauer et. al. utilized a “long-term global multiregional model ReMIND-R” intertemporal model to analyze the effects of four differing paths for global nuclear policy following the 2011 Fukishima Daiichi meltdown in Japan. Early shutdown and removal of nuclear plants is shown to contribute to “discounted cumulative global GDP losses of 0.07% by 2020,” and if policy dictates prohibition of investment in nuclear power, those losses will double. The study concluded that the discounted reduction in global GDP by 2035 would be significantly worse if global environmental policy shifts in the direction of a carbon budget of some kind, which would strongly suggest limits on and/or cap emissions from coal, natural gas and crude oil. Continue reading

Public Participation and Trust in Chinese Nuclear Power Development

by Sam Peterson

Following the Fukishima Daiichi nuclear incident on Friday, March 11, 2011, Chinese citizens in the rural Shandong peninsula began stockpiling salt and consuming cydiodide tablets as precaution against radiation. Their government had provided little to no information regarding the immediate fallout of the Japanese nuclear event, and would continue to withhold information regarding the incident until several weeks later. Continue reading