Is nuclear power green? If it isn’t, is it better than fossil?

Only two nuclear plants have opened since 2000, and since then 13 others have been shuttered. Of course nuclear power creates radioactive waste that lasts 10,000 years, that’s kind of a problem.

Chart of the Week

1. Is going nuclear also going green?

The Alvin W. Vogtle Electric Generating Plant in Georgia is about to bring online two reactors with 2.2 gigawatts of power. The addition will make the station – with four nuclear reactors, two already operating – the biggest electricity generating station in the United States, capable of powering over 1 million homes. Notably, the nuclear reactors have no carbon emissions, a critical consideration as the U.S. moves to create a carbon-free electrical grid. But the Vogtle reactors are the only two plants opened since 2000, and since then 13 others have been shuttered. Of course nuclear power creates radioactive waste that lasts 10,000 years, that’s kind of a problem.

Source: Bloomberg

2. Mo’ regulations, mo’ problems…less emissions?

Last Thursday the U.S. EPA released blockbuster new power plant greenhouse gas emissions rules that could take big steps towards achieving levels promised in the 2015 Paris Agreement. But now independent analysis is starting to trickle out, taking a few bites out of the excitement.

Sources: Grist / Heated / Bloomberg / Climate Home News

3. Surprise! An oil emirate is attempting to derail global climate talks

Every year, nations from around the globe participate in a “Conference of the Parties” (COP) to negotiate aspects of mitigating climate change. The last meeting, COP27, was held in Egypt, and the next meeting, COP28, beginning November 30, will meet in the United Arab Emirates. The COP28 President, Sultan Al Jaber, also leads UAE’s state oil company. As such, reports are emerging that Al Jaber is maneuvering the COP28 proceedings to adopt a goal to reach net zero emissions from extracting oil and gas by 2050 – which basically means oil and gas companies can extract as much as they want, so long as they off-set everything by Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS), a process that is largely unproven at scale. Environmentalists call Al Jaber’s proposal “greenwashing”, since it would likely not cover emissions from the use of fossil fuels, only emissions from the extraction process.

  • The former UN climate chief, Christiana Figueres, called the UAE proposal “very dangerous” and a “direct threat to the survival of vulnerable nations”.
  • At COP27, nearly 200 countries signed off on creating a new fund to compensate countries for some of the damages caused by extreme weather events. COP28 will include discussion on how to capitalize the fund.
  • The world must slash CO2 emissions by 45% by 2030 to have a chance of limiting global heating to 1.5C, the level agreed to in the 2015 Paris Agreement.
  • COP28 will run from Nov. 30 to Dec. 12

Sources: Financial Times / Climate Home News / Bloomberg / Guardian

4. Heat Rising

It’s getting to be summertime in the Northern Hemisphere, and since this is an El Niño year, we’re getting lots more heat issues – many of which seem to be related to climate change. Already, Spain, Vietnam, India, and the Pacific Northwest have suffered record temperatures. So, each week we’re going to keep a running tab on the overheated parts of the world.

Other Things Happened

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