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NUCLEAR POWER AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

By Rogner H-holger

Abstract

A central goal of sustainable development is to maintain or increase the overall assets (natural, manmade, human and social) available to future generations, while minimizing depletion of finite resources and not exceeding the carrying capacities of ecosystems. Carrying capacities are, one way or another, stressed by material extracted from ecosystems, diverted within ecosystems or put into ecosystems. As there exists no absolute yardstick for sustainable energy development and there is no technology without risk or wastes, nuclear's compatibility with sustainable development cannot be judged in isolation but only in comparison with alternatives. Moreover, comparisons must not be based only on past or current technology performance but require a forward looking approach taking into account ongoing RD&D and innovation. Based on the concept of 'weak sustainability ' and by applying seven criteria for sustainable development, the paper will argue that the further development of nuclear power broadens the natural resource base for meeting growing global energy needs, increases technological and human capital, and, when safely handled, has little impact on human health and ecosystems along the full nuclear source-toservice energy chain. The choice of technologies to advance sustainable energy development in any given country is a sovereign choice, and each country will need a mix of technologies suited to its situation and needs. The essenceoftheBrundtlandReport’sdefinitionofsustainabledevelopmentistheimportanceofexpanding possibilities and keeping options open- not foreclosing them for future generations. In line with the Agenda 21 principle of differentiated responsibilities among countries, those countries who are able and willing have a particularly important role to play in keeping the nuclear option open, preserving nuclear knowledge,supportingRD&Dinadvancedreactorandfuelcycledesigns,andincreasingtheworld’s technological and human capital

Year: 2004
OAI identifier: oai:CiteSeerX.psu:10.1.1.173.2984
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