, Volume 91, Number 2

Reinhard Wolf

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.

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