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See also www.nuclearbanks.org
Nuclear power is sometimes widely and misleadingly promoted as the solution to energy insecurity and climate change. The nuclear sector itself is gearing itself up for a new nuclear dawn and some governments still embrace nuclear as one of their energy options.
Private banks play a key role in supporting the nuclear industry, by providing financing for companies involved in nuclear power generation and for the construction of new nuclear power plants.
BankTrack believes that any bank that strives to contribute to a sustainable solution to climate change should stay away from the nuclear sector and focus entirely on investing in energy efficiency and renewable energy sources.
Too many environmental and safety problems of nuclear energy remain unsolved until today. To mention only a few:
- Environmental, human health and social damages from mining of uranium, transportation of both fuel and waste, and processing of nuclear reactor fuel.
- The threat of terrorist misuse of radioactive materials and the threat of ongoing nuclear proliferation.
- The continuous threat of a big accident on the scale of Chernobyl or Fukushima.
- The unsolved problem of how to dispose of thousands of tons of highly radioactive waste, leaving generations to come with a toxic, life threatening legacy.
Contrary to widely circulated claims, nuclear power is not a zero-carbon solution to growing energy demand. A lifecycle analysis of the nuclear fuel chain reveals that nuclear power is not carbon-free or even low-carbon (with the exception of reactor operation). The stages of the nuclear fuel chain: mining, processing, long-distance transportation, power plant construction, decommissioning and waste management, account for combined CO2 emissions comparable to, or higher than, those resulting from burning natural gas to make electricity (Matthes 2005 and Sims 2005).
At best, nuclear energy represents a slow, expensive, and very limited contribution to reducing GHG emissions. Investments in energy efficiency improvements and renewable energy sources offer a far cheaper, flexible and cost-efficient approach, delivering more GHG abatement per amount of money and time invested (Lovins 2005).
Despite massive efforts to manufacture a new acceptance for nuclear energy, citizens in most countries remain wary to staunchly opposed to nuclear energy. Public perception of nuclear power has been shaped by events such as the Chernobyl disaster of 1986 and the Fukushima disaster of 2011.