Current estimates indicate that several hundred thousand deaths per year can be
attributed to climate change. Developed countries have reacted to this growing
disaster by increasing the use of renewable energies, but what is to be done with
the additional electricity thus generated? Should it be used for cutting back
coal-fired energy production or can it be used for substituting nuclear energy?
Priority must be given to replacing coal power, since developed countries have a
strong duty to minimize the physical harm caused by their electricity generation.
Dropping nuclear energy prior to coal power cannot be justified because the risks
of nuclear energy pale in comparison to the suffering that emissions from coalfired
plants inflict both on their host countries and on poorer countries in the
global South that (a) do not benefit from this energy and (b) have far less capacity
to cope with the effects of climate change or other environmental damages. This
article argues that when faced with a choice between operating coal-fired power
plants or nuclear reactors, governments are obliged to opt for nuclear energy.