Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Climate Change Advocates Move Slowly, Embracing Nuclear Power

Now that world leaders have acknowledged the impossibility of coming to any binding agreement at next month’s Copenhagen conference, Senate action on climate change legislation has lost its urgency for the time being. The Obama administration, however, still wants a comprehensive cap and trade measure, like the House bill passed earlier this year, rather than a more limited measure targeted at the electric power production industry, as some legislators have been heard to suggest.

White House climate adviser Carol Browner said last week that incremental greenhouse gas emission reduction measures are not in the cards. “We need comprehensive energy reform,” she said, including power plants, refineries, factors, farms and other sources of carbon emissions. She said she expects negotiation of an international climate treaty to replace the Kyoto Protocol will take up to a year after the Copenhagen conference.

Meanwhile, former Greenpeace commando Stephen Tindale, who once broke into a nuclear power facility to scrawl “Danger” on the side of the reactor building, acknowledges that significant greenhouse gas emission reduction in future years will depend upon construction of a large number of nuclear generating plants around the world. “It’s really a question about the greater evil – nuclear waste or climate change. But there is no contest any more. Climate change is the bigger threat, and nuclear is part of the answer,” Tindale says. “Like many of us, I began to slowly realize we don’t have the luxury any more of excluding nuclear energy. We need all the help we can get.”
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