SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

The World

April 7, 2011

Japan disaster complicates moves to clean energy

BANGKOK — Worldwide calls to curb nuclear power amid Japan's plant crisis could be bad news for the environment unless nations finally go all-out to tap wind, solar and other clean, renewable energy, climate change negotiators and activists say.

If countries scrap nuclear plants, which emit no greenhouse gases blamed for global warming, they may turn to the fossil fuels that experts call the main culprit behind climate change. Environmental activists counter that the tragedy may prove a defining moment, a window of opportunity to strike a decisive blow against both.

"It's a false choice to give the public an alternative between a climate change disaster or a nuclear disaster. We need renewable energy," said Tove Maria Ryding of the environmental group Greenpeace. "Now, we can either have a kick back or a leap forward."

Christiana Figueres, the U.N.'s top climate change official, said that all countries are reviewing nuclear policies in the wake of Japan's crisis.

"It remains to be seen what they decide," she said at a 173-nation conference running through Friday in Bangkok. The gathering aims to build on a climate summit held last December in Cancun, Mexico.

Figueres and others are concerned that pledges made by governments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions so far equal only 60 percent of what scientists say is required by 2020 to keep temperatures from rising more than 2 degrees Celsius (3.8 F) above preindustrial levels.

A swing back to fossil fuels presumably would worsen the effects of climate change, which many scientists say causes a melting of polar ice caps and glaciers, a rise in sea levels and extreme weather.

Before a tsunami ravaged Japan's Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex last month, the Paris-based International Energy Agency had estimated that nuclear plants would add 360 gigawatts of generating capacity to the global inventory by 2035.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
The World

AP Video
Raw: 2 Shells Hit Fuel Tank at Gaza Power Plant Raw: Massive Explosions From Airstrikes in Gaza Today in History for July 29th Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Airstrike Shatters Fragile Calm in Gaza UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Today in History for July 28th Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Violent Clashes Between Libyan Militias Today in History for July 27th Thousands at Peace Rally in Tel Aviv Raw: Sirens After Explosions in Israel Video Shows Smiling American Bomber in Syria Raw: Planes With MH17 Victims Land in Eindhoven Kerry Lays Out Ceasefire Goals for Gaza Family of MH17 Victim Pay Respects at Crash Site US Evacuates Embassy in Libya Amid Clashes Raw: Tanks Patrol Gaza Streets During Ceasefire
NDN Video
'Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1' Sneak Peek GMA: Dog passes out from excitment to see owner Chapter Two: Designing for Naomi Watts Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Florida Keys Webcam Captures Turtles Hatching Morgan Freeman Sucks Down Helium on 'Tonight Show' Robin Wright Can Dance! (WATCH) She's Back! See Paris Hilton's New Carl's Jr. Ad Big Weekend For Atlanta Braves In Cooperstown - @TheBuzzeronFox Chapter Two: Becoming a first-time director What's Got Jack Black Freaking Out at Comic-Con? Doctors Remove 232 Teeth From Teen's Mouth Bradley Cooper Explains His Voice in 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Deja vu: Another NYPD officer choke-holding a suspect 'Fifty Shades of Grey': Watch the Super Sexy First Trailer Now! Reports: Ravens RB Ray Rice Suspended For 1st 2 Games Of The Season Air Algerie plane with 119 on board missing over Mali Diamond Stone, Malik Newman, Josh Jackson and others showcase talent Free Arturo - The World's Saddest Polar Bear A Look Back at Batman On Film Through The Years