This week, as the United Nations convened climate change negotiations in Bonn, Germany, President Donald J. Trump’s envoys hosted an event promoting fossil fuels. Lost in the ensuing furor among the representatives gathered in Bonn was the U.S. delegation’s support of nuclear power. Council on Foreign Relations Fellow Varun Sivaram and Research Associate Madison Freeman argue in Foreign Affairs that “the administration should withdraw its botched proposal to subsidize both coal and nuclear and instead pursue a thoughtful strategy to foster a domestic nuclear renaissance.”
“As the largest source of clean energy in the United States, nuclear energy will be crucial to limiting global greenhouse gas emissions and confronting climate change,” write the authors. “Yet because the Trump administration links its support for nuclear to that for fossil fuels such as coal, it cedes any appearance of responsible environmental stewardship and strains strategically important relationships.”
“By tying the fortunes of nuclear and coal, the administration is jeopardizing the future of an industry that offers climate, diplomatic, security, and economic benefits with that of one that is in irreversible and overdue decline. Trump should disentangle his policies towards the two energy sources and focus efforts on fostering an advanced U.S. nuclear industry.”
The authors observe “the nuclear sector has long been a source of economic prosperity for the United States. Rejuvenating a domestic industry that deploys new reactors at home as well as abroad—for example, in Asian countries eager to power economic growth with nuclear power—would boost job creation and economic growth.”
“Supporting domestic nuclear energy is a laudable goal. . . . By turning around the nuclear industry, the administration might rebuild some of the diplomatic goodwill that was lost after the announcement that the United States planned to pull out of the Paris agreement.”
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