Gensvar til James Hansen fra 311 miljøorganisationer om A-kraft

10. januar 2014

Siden James Hansen sammen med Ken Caldeira, Kerry Emanuel og Tom Wigley i et åbent brev To those influencing environmental policy but opposed to nuclear power,¹ for to måneder siden markerede, at verden – og ikke mindst dens mange miljøforkæmpere – burde tage A-kraften til sig som en nødvendig del af den stadig mere hastende klimaindsats, har jeg samlet materiale til en slags modsvar. For selvom jeg har en kolossal respekt for Hansens klimaperspektiv, måtte jeg sande, at her var en grænse for, hvor jeg kunne følge ham.

Ikke mindst Fukushima-katastrofen, som stadig tre år efter er langt fra er under kontrol, og som bliver ved med som ringe i vandet at brede sig ud i alle afkroge af det japanske samfund og videre ud i verdenssamfundet, har gjort det klart for mig, at A-kraften er noget af det, som ikke fører noget godt med sig, og som mennesket havde været bedre stillet uden.

Men nu er en gruppe på 311 miljøorganisationer kommet mig i forkøbet. De afleverede tidligere på ugen et fælles gensvar² til James Hansen og hans tre medforfattere, hvor de tager til gensvar – sobert, men nogenlunde til benet. Så uden at have opgivet min egen dialog med James Hansens A-kraft-perspektiv, som synes ude af trit med dén vedvarende energi-virkelighed, som hastigt er ved at forme sig, så er her i første omgang den fælles henvendelse fra de 311 miljøorganisationer, hvoraf de fleste er amerikanske.

January 6, 2014


Although we greatly respect your work on climate and lending it a much higher profile in public dialogue than would otherwise be the case, we read your letter of November 3, 2013 urging the environmental community to support nuclear power as a solution to climate change with concern. We respectfully disagree with your analysis that nuclear power can safely and affordably mitigate climate change.

Nuclear power is not a financially viable option. Since its inception it has required taxpayer subsidies and publically financed indemnity against accidents. New construction requires billions in public subsidies to attract private capital and, once under construction, severe cost overruns are all but inevitable. As for operational safety, the history of nuclear power plants in the US is fraught with near misses, as documented by the Union of Concerned Scientists, and creates another financial and safety quagmire – high-level nuclear waste. Internationally, we’ve experienced two catastrophic accidents for a technology deemed to be virtually ‘failsafe’.

As for “advanced” nuclear designs endorsed in your letter, they have been tried and failed or are mere blueprints without realistic hope, in the near term, if ever, to be commercialized. The promise and potential impact you lend breeder reactor technology in your letter is misplaced. Globally, $100 billion over sixty years have been squandered to bring the technology to commercialization without success. The liquid sodium-based cooling system is highly dangerous as proven in Japan and the US. And the technology has proven to be highly unreliable.

Equally detrimental in cost and environmental impact is reprocessing of nuclear waste. In France, the poster child for nuclear energy, reprocessing results in a marginal increase in energetic use of uranium while largely increasing the volume of all levels of radioactive waste. Indeed, the process generates large volumes of radioactive liquid waste annually that is dumped into the English Channel and has increased electric costs to consumers significantly. Not to mention the well-recognized proliferation risks of adopting a plutonium-based energy system.

We disagree with your assessment of renewable power and energy efficiency. They can and are being brought to scale globally. Moreover, they can be deployed much more quickly than nuclear power. For instance, in the US from 2002 to 2012 over 50,000 megawatts of wind were deployed. Not one megawatt of power from new nuclear reactors was deployed, despite subsidies estimated to be worth more than the value of the power new reactors would have produced. Similarly, it took 40 years globally to deploy 50,000 megawatts of solar PV and, recently, only 2 ½ years to deploy an equal amount. By some estimates, another 100,000 MW will be built by the end of 2015. Already, renewables and distributed power have overtaken nuclear power in terms of megawatt hour generation worldwide.

The fact of the matter is, many Wall Street analysts predict that solar PV and wind will have reached grid parity by the end of the decade. Wind in certain parts of the Midwest is already cheaper than natural gas on the wholesale level. Energy efficiency continues to outperform all technologies on a cost basis. While the cost of these technologies continues to decline and enjoy further technological advancement, the cost of nuclear power continues to increase and construction timeframes remain excessive. And we emphasize again that no technological breakthrough to reduce its costs or enhance its operation will occur in the foreseeable future.

Moreover, due to the glacial pace of deployment, the absence of any possibility of strategic technological breakthroughs, and the necessity, as you correctly say, of mitigating climate risks in the near term, nuclear technology is ill-suited to provide any real impact on greenhouse gas emissions in that timeframe. On the contrary, the technologies perfectly positioned now, due to their cost and level of commercialization, to attain decisive reductions in greenhouse gas emissions in the near term are renewable, energy efficiency, distributed power, demand response, and storage technologies.

Instead of embracing nuclear power, we request that you join us in supporting an electric grid dominated by energy efficiency, renewable, distributed power and storage technologies. We ask you to join us in supporting the phase-out of nuclear power as Germany and other countries are pursuing.

It is simply not feasible for nuclear power to be a part of a sustainable, safe and affordable future for humankind.

We would be pleased to meet with you directly to further discuss these issues, to bring the relevant research on renewable energy and grid integration to a dialog with you. Again, we thank you for your service and contribution to our country’s understanding about climate change.

The energy choices we make going forward must also take into account the financial, air and water impacts and public health and safety. There are alternatives to fossil fuels and nuclear power and we welcome a chance to a dialog and debate with each of you.


Åbent brev til James Hansen et al., NIRS & Civic Society Institute 08.01.2014 (pdf).²

Ken Caldeira, Kerry Emanuel, James Hansen & Tom Wigley: To those influencing environmental policy but opposed to nuclear power, Planet 3.0 Beyond Sustainability 08.11.2013.¹

Se tidligere blog-indlæg tagged James Hansen.

Se løbende optegnelser om udviklingen ved Fukushima Daiichi.