Statement at COP21, December 4, 2015

Many years ago, I was protesting against nuclear power at the Shoreham Nuclear Plant on Long Island and I was arrested for protesting nuclear power. At that time, I thought, we had bioenergy and some wind and solar and that would be enough to solve the problem.

I’ve come to see now that the magnitude of the problem is so great that we can’t afford to leave technologies unused that can potentially help.

There’s really only one technology that I know of that can provide carbon free power [at the scale required by modern civilization] when the sun is not shining and the wind is not blowing at the scale modern civilization requires and that is nuclear power.* And whatever you think of nuclear power, we need to let it compete on its own merits given an appropriate regulatory environment and a sensible, cost-competitive market situation.

And we shouldn’t discriminate against individual technologies. It’s not about either/or, we’re not talking about whether we favor solar power, wind or nuclear power; I’m in favor of anything that can prevent climate change, protect the environment and allow poor people to get food and health care and education.**

The basic plea here is let’s focus on the climate agenda, and the climate agenda is about supplying energy [services] in a way that does not damage our environment.*** We need to allow technologies to compete on their own merits.

Transcription by:

These were extemporaneous verbal comments made at a press conference at COP21 in Paris. Thus not every sentence contained every qualifier it needed, and not every important point was made.

*Qualifier about scale added here.

**This is not a complete list of filters. Key is that the technologies should be able to “compete on its own merits given an appropriate regulatory environment and a sensible, cost-competitive market”. This would include considerations of safety, etc.

***This should have read ‘energy services’ instead of ‘energy’. We need to work to provide more energy services with less energy consumption.