The Future of Nuclear Power and its effect on CO2 emissions


Economist: “Well-designed carbon prices can boost green power, encourage energy-saving and suppress fossil-fired power much more efficiently than subsidies for renewables.”

That’s pretty strait forward, but this is not what’s happening. If fact, it’s quite the opposite. Fossil fuels, as well as renewables are all subsidies in one way or another. Moreover, (most) economists have clearly emphasized that a carbon tax (perhaps even on product level and not on production level to also capture the carbon intensive transport system) would be much more efficient that most current policies. However, yet the developments look rather different – which is frustrating to most that follow the issue.

Since the turn of the century, global energy has become more, not less, carbon intensive. Take a major CO2 emiting fuel: Coal. It now supplies 41% of the world’s electricity and 29% of the world’s energy—a bigger share than at any time in at least four decades. (Though this is not the case in the OECD (around 18%), which I will focus on later.)

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Still incomplete – What happened in Paris will not stay in Paris

Will the world succeed in significant mitigation of GHGs?

The Agreement – what has actually happened in Paris?Paris agreement

Last week, an historic agreement was reached in Paris. The importance of this conference has also been addressed in previous blog post.

What the agreement did indeed was to strengthen –some may say establish- a climate change regime, as it establishes a long-term goal of net-zero emissions, a mechanism to review progress and increase ambition at regular intervals (every 5 years, which is a common way to do review processes of international treaties of all kinds), and a framework for climate finance. International regimes are commonly defined as “principles, norms, rules, and decision-making procedures around which actors expectations converge in a given issue-area.”[1]

Key provisions are therefore:

  • Transparency in and Review of Mitigations: States are to peak their emissions as soon as possible, plus achieving “net-zero” emissions by the half of the century. Furthermore, through Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs – the World Resource Insitute provides us with this wonderful map to track all the contributions: ), the target of limiting global warming to “well below” 2 degrees, or even to 1.5 degrees Celsius, should be reached.
    • In the eyes of the well-infromed International Insitute for Applied System Analysis (IIASA), the 1.5 target is possible. Joeri Rogelj, researcher at IIASA, says “Global emissions must peak as soon as 2020 if we are to limit warming to 1.5°C by 2100.”
    • However, some scientists are very sceptical if the 1.5 target is still feasible: an example: “We need stronger, short-term action,” said Steffen Kallbekken, research director at Cicero: “By the time the [INDCs] enter into force in 2020, we will have probably exhausted the entire carbon budget for the 1.5-degree target.”
  • Climate finance:Developed countries agreed in Copenhagen to provide $100 billion annually in financial assistance by 2020 for developing countries to adapt to climate change and reduce emissions while growing their clean energy economies. The Paris Agreement acknowledges this $100 billion as a minimum for climate finance to be reviewed and increased “before 2025.” The agreement balances public funding between mitigation and adaptation, increasing pre-2020 support for adaptation for the most vulnerable countries already suffering the impacts of climate change.

The Implementation – what will happen outside Paris?

Continue reading Still incomplete – What happened in Paris will not stay in Paris

…let there be light_Part II

In the first post on …let there be light  it was argued that change in the energy regime complex is required to address challenges of the 21st century. It was further highlighted that Policies must accelerate, intensify and help make the implementation of these changes possible, widespread and affordable. In this regards, the status of renewable energy is particularly essential.

Reforming the Energy Regime Complex – the case for renewables

Growth in renewables has been driven by several factors, including renewable energy support policies and the increasing cost-competiveness of energy from renewable sources. In many countries, renewables are broadly competitive with conventional energy sources. At the same time, growth continues to be tempered by subsidies to fossil fuels, particularly in developing countries.

Continue reading …let there be light_Part II

…let there be light

Reforming the Energy Regime Complex – Change for the 21st century_ Part I

Energy is essential for human development and energy systems (or the energy regime complex – as this blog has continuously referred to it) are a crucial subject of access for addressing the most pressing global challenges of the 21st century, including poverty eradication, food production and security, health, climate protection, conservation of ecosystems, peace and security, and last but not least sustainable economic and social development.

Little doubt about required transformation

For addressing these issues adequately, a major transformation is required to avoid potential catastrophic consequences in any of the above mentioned themes, or in the “world system” at large. Most future scenarios demonstrate the importance of the energy regime and systems in addressing and resolving the major challenges of our time. The good news is that strategies have identified to have the potential to resolve the multiple challenges (or many of them) simultaneously and bring mutual and multiple benefits. But as usual, their successful implementation requires determined, sustained and immediate action and political will and courage.

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Managing the Future by Managing the Energy Regime

Change in Energy Regime Complex due to focus on managing externalities of environmental damage and resource conflicts.

Energy is often said to be the basis of modern society, as it enables us to fulfil our basic human needs and it powers the world economy. Yet, the energy path we are currently on is clearly unsustainable.

Most elements of the regime have arisen as a response to some widespread dissatisfaction with the status quo—such as the disruptions in western economies following the Arab oil embargo or the disruptions in expected revenues in OPEC members following the periodic collapse of their cartel discipline, or take the current dispute between the EU and Gazprom. Perhaps, now the dissatisfaction arisen from unsustainability itself.

The regime complex that exists has emerged from a variety of different strands of diplomatic, economic and technological activity.

Continue reading Managing the Future by Managing the Energy Regime