Energy and Climate: Where Do We Focus Our Efforts?

Energy and Climate: Where Do We Focus Our Efforts?

I recently posted a commentary in The Hill explaining why the U.S. could do better than the Clean Power Plan (CPP). As always, I try and implore others to look at the bigger picture and see global climate change as the global issue it actually is and not just a U.S. issue only. In addition, I try and emphasize that without nuclear power we can’t meet future global energy demands and global carbon objectives simultaneously. While regulatory efforts focus on curbing emissions from the U.S. electric power sector, data trends continue to point to the east and to emerging economies as to where we must focus our attention; not to curb their energy consumption, but to engage with them in technologies that will help them meet their economic objectives.

Figure 1. Total CO2 emissions for world’s top 15 GDPs

Figure 2. Change in CO2 emissions since 1985 during two 16-year periods

Figure 3. CO2 emissions from the U.S. electric power sector

Figure 4. U.S. power generation profile–generation and CO2 emissions

As I write up this blog post, the IAEA is in the beginning of its International Ministerial Conference entitled, “Nuclear Power in the 21st Century.” Around the world, emerging economies in need of more energy-dense resources, not less, are pleading their case for more nuclear power to meet those needs without compromising climate objectives. America can be a great ally in these efforts, but U.S. industry cannot compete with state-owned enterprises (SOEs) in countries such as China and Russia, which are stepping into these regions and providing the needed nuclear expertise and technology. We need comprehensive energy policy that will allow U.S. industry to compete with SOE’s and maintain U.S. strength and geopolitical leverage in the global nuclear supply chain. This is something we don’t want to cede to China or Russia.

The U.S. has the technology, the innovation and the industrial heft to engage with the world in civilian nuclear power technology–what we need, and what we seem to lack, is the political resolve to do something creative, big and impactful.



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