THE FUKUSHIMA NUCLEAR DISASTER HAS
led to a global review of nuclear power.
Germany has declared a complete phasing
out of its 17 nuclear reactors by 2022 (1); the
Swiss government has voted not to replace
their nuclear plants, which means they all
have to be decommissioned by 2034 (2);
and the French government has committed
to reducing the share of nuclear power in its
Although we do not discount the appeal
of a cleaner and nonnuclear world, we cau-
tion that widespread, rapid denuclearization
may well have unintended consequences,
given that nuclear power accounts for 13.5%
of global electricity production (3). The
acute shortfall from a sudden, rapid denu-
clearization of electricity production can
only feasibly be compensated by increas-
ing the burning of fossil fuels, resulting in
much greater emissions of greenhouse gases
and worsening the climate change problem.
Given the current poor economic outlook in
nuclear-powered economies such as Japan,
the loss of nuclear expertise as an export
industry and the added burden of further
fossil fuel imports are likely to force these
nations to abandon their emission targets.
Developing emitter nations such as India
and China will be even less likely to commit
to extensive emission cuts.
structure, which cannot be recovered if the
electrical generation method is changed,
and the inertia that pervades the energy sec-
Most of the problems associated with
nuclear power can be resolved with newer,
modified technologies, which could make
it safer to use. Given the value of nuclear
energy in combating climatic change in the
short to medium term, let’s not be too hasty
in phasing it out completely.
SHUN DENG FAM,1* DING LI YONG,2 DANIEL NG,3
1School of Archaeology and Anthropology, The Australian
National University, Canberra, ACT 0200, Australia. 2South-
East Asian Biodiversity Society, Singapore, 680504, Singa-
pore. 3Department of Biological Sciences, National Univer-
sity of Singapore, 117543, Singapore.
*To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail:
1. D. Jarn, S. Korolczuk, Environ. Polit. 21, 159 (2012).
2. World Nuclear Association, Nuclear Power in Switzerland
3. P. L. Joskow, J. E. Parsons. Econ. Energ. Environ. Sci. 1,
4. S. O. Negro, F. Alkemade, M. P. Hekkert. Renew. Sust.
Energ. Rev. 16, 3836 (2012).
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