In a significant breakthrough, The New York Times and The Boston Globe acknowledged the role of nuclear power in addressing climate change in separate editorials this week. The Times editorial noted that while “many environmentalists have serious qualms about nuclear energy, retaining this capacity is smart from a climate perspective.”
Examining the role of nuclear power in combating climate change and the security challenges it brings has been the focus of the Global Nexus Initiative (GNI), an innovative boundary-spanning project led by PGS. For the past three years, GNI has examined the issues at the intersection of climate change, energy demand, nuclear power and global security, producing 22 policy recommendations. The project marked the first time that experts from the nuclear power, environmental, and global security communities gathered to work on these vital issues.
The GNI's key findings recognized that nuclear power, in addition to other clean energy technologies, is an essential component in meeting increasing global clean-energy demands. But for nuclear power to continue being a major provider of zero-carbon energy, nuclear governance – including safety, security and nonproliferation measures and standards - must be strengthened.
Strengthening nuclear governance is particularly important for the next generation of small and advanced reactors, which have the potential to be more easily deployable and operationally flexible than large light-water reactors. It is also essential as nuclear power expands in the politically tense and unstable regions of Asia and the Middle East. Energy demand and populations are growing in these regions, and states are developing strategies to meet their sustainable development, climate and clean-air goals. Nuclear will play a role, that much is certain. What’s less clear is whether the global nuclear safety and security framework can keep pace.
Kenneth Luongo, President, Partnership for Global Security
Photo Credit: Gian Reto Tarnutzer