The View from Pew

I had the privilege last week of attending a speech given by Eileen Claussen, the President of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change. Pew is a critical organization in constructively spreading awareness and promoting practical thinking among government and business leaders about the climate change issue.

Ms. Claussen’s main message was that it was important to view climate change as an opportunity, not a threat. She provided an optimistic message, asserting that many major companies (e.g., BP, Shell, GE, DuPont, etc.) have made this shift in perspective, and that others are bound to follow.

It is notable that a number of electric utilities (e.g., Exelon, Cinergy, AEP, PG&E, Wisconsin Electric, DTE, Entergy, Ontario Power, TransAlta) are on the Pew Center’s Business Environmental Leadership Council. It’s also notable that a number (though not all) of these companies have large nuclear portfolios. And, it’s further notable that Ms. Claussen was of the opinion that nuclear had to be a large part of the solution to the climate change issue.

Personally, I agree with that assessment. Because nuclear is essentially a zero-carbon energy source that is proven to be scalable and in adequate supply, it seems clear that any future energy system must involve substantial nuclear power generation capacity if it is to successfully address the climate change challenge while providing the requirements that citizens of the developed world in the 21st Century demand.

But, however pragmatic I think it to be, this view is outright anathema to many environmentalists. What does the cleantech community think about nuclear? Is it part of the solution, or part of the problem?

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