Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Can nuclear energy fuel sustainable development?

China's choices really are few if it intends to fuel its ambitious economic development agenda without destroying its own local environment and the global commons as well. In order to achieve these twin objectives the two primary energy options available to it are renewable energy and nuclear fission.

But is the Nuclear option truly sustainable? Nicolas Sarkozy, President of France (which depends on nuclear plants for about 80 percent of its electricity) and
Anne Lauvergeon (above), chief executive of France's nuclear industry giant Areva say it is. Moreover, he's determined to convince China that this is so. (GW)

Sarkozy Says China Must Commit to `Sustainable Development'

By Francois de Beaupuy
November 27, 2007

Nov. 27 (Bloomberg) -- French President Nicolas Sarkozy said China must help build a global consensus to curb greenhouse gas emissions, adding France will seek European Union tariffs on imports from nations without binding goals to cut pollution.

"We absolutely must halve global emissions of greenhouse gases by 2050,'' Sarkozy said in a speech at the Tsinghua University in Beijing today. "China must commit to sustainable development.''

The European Union wants to curb greenhouse-gas emissions by at least 20 percent by 2020, compared with 1990 levels, to help keep global temperatures from rising 2 degrees Celsius. China insists it and other developing nations be given more leeway to emit greenhouse gases as they need to consume energy to generate growth and reduce poverty.

"I will defend the principle of a carbon compensation mechanism at the borders of the European Union toward countries that wouldn't adopt binding rules to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,'' the French president said on the last day of his three-day state visit in China. "It wouldn't be fair that European manufacturers would be penalized'' by unilateral EU anti-pollution commitments.

Environment ministers from 80 countries will meet in December in Bali, Indonesia, to discuss an agreement on climate change to succeed the emissions-limiting Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012.

`Differentiated Responsibility'

France approves the principle of "differentiated responsibility'' in efforts to curb climate change, Sarkozy said, echoing the position expressed by China. Still, he added "Your growth can't be at the expense of the environment,'' and "we are at the edge of what's bearable.''

China is poised to surpass the U.S. this year as the biggest emitter of carbon dioxide and other climate-altering greenhouse gases.

"China will invest'' to curb carbon dioxide emissions "because it's already facing phenomena that endanger its development and health: air and water pollution; accelerated desertification and rising waters tomorrow,'' the French president said. "China must set an example.''

Sarkozy and Chinese President Hu Jintao yesterday signed an agreement to cooperate in efforts to combat climate change, while Paris-based Areva SA signed an 8 billion euro ($11.9 billion) agreement to build nuclear reactors in the Asian nation. China plans to build as many as 26 reactors by 2020 as it turns to atomic energy to cut pollution and reliance on oil and coal.


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