Northern California Science Writers Association

Energy expert Dan Kammen: Should nuclear power be part of our response to climate change?

  • Wednesday, May 03, 2023
  • 6:00 PM - 9:00 PM
  • Free Zoom event


Registration is closed

Should nuclear power be part of our response to climate change?

As concerns over climate change and social justice force nations to ramp up sources of renewable energy — wind, solar, hydro — one zero-emissions source remains controversial: nuclear power. 

Some countries and states have scrapped existing nuclear plants (Germany, California), forcing an even faster adoption of renewable energy and storage, which some worry could result in a greater reliance on fossil fuels at precisely the wrong time. California almost shuttered its last remaining nuclear plant, Diablo Canyon, before Governor Newsom and the legislature afforded nuclear a temporary (or longer) stay. Are the dangers of nuclear waste and nuclear meltdown — witness Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, Fukashima Daichi — too great for nuclear power to play a role in limiting climate change? Can we reach the goal of negative emissions without nuclear? 

Dan Kammen, director of the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory at UC Berkeley, professor in the Energy and Resources Group, and professor of nuclear engineering, has thought about these questions for decades. He has contributed to several IPCC reports on climate change — including the 2007 assessment, which received the Nobel Peace Prize — and consulted with federal, state and many foreign governments on the best strategies to deal with climate change. He currently serves as Senior Advisor for Energy and Innovation at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). 

In his talk, Kammen will discuss the pros and cons of nuclear power in light of the latest and most sobering IPCC report, which came out last month and emphasized the "rapidly closing window of opportunity to secure a livable and sustainable future for all."

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