Environmentalists have criticised a recommendation by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development that advocates the use of nuclear power as a means of achieving sustainable development.
A report issued last month by the OECD concluded that nuclear energy had a part to play in any country’s efforts to reduce its output of greenhouse gases.
However, Rupert Howes, executive director for the sustainable economy programme at the Forum for the Future, a UK charity working for sustainable development, said: ‘Economically I do not think nuclear energy stands up. I do not think that it is competitive. It depends on what costs you take into account.
‘Do consumers really pay back the subsidies nuclear energy has received for decades? Sustainable development certainly does not mean leaving radioactive legacies for the generations to come,’ Howes added.
The OECD report, Nuclear Energy in a Sustainable Development Perspective, recommends it as a competitive technology with an ample technical resource base, sufficient reserves for decades of energy production, and zero carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions.
Radioactive waste is also considered by the OECD to be no barrier to the continued use of nuclear energy.
‘Radioactive waste represents small volumes that can be isolated from the biosphere at an acceptable cost,’ the report says.
The study concludes: ‘Including the nuclear energy option in the basket of tools aiming at addressing climate change issues is consistent with sustainable development.’
Germany decided last year to close down all its nuclear power stations and at present the UK has no plans to build any more reactors.