According to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), an organization is responsible for overseeing the use of nuclear technology for energy production worldwide, “nuclear power has significant potential to contribute to GHG reduction.”
Between 1970 and 2015, the deployment of nuclear power has prevented the release of nearly 68 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide, according to the IAEA. The organization also said that achieving the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s objective of keeping global temperature increases below two degrees hinges on doubling nuclear power’s contribution to the world’s energy needs by 2030.
Studies also estimate, based on data from the U.S., for every nuclear reactor that goes offline, carbon dioxide emissions rise by 5.8 million tonnes, a release that would need to be offset by the planting of 95 million trees.
For the longest time, nuclear power has been an anathema in many environmental activist circles. Incidents such as Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Fukushima have soured the boundless optimism that once supported the proliferation of nuclear power following World War II.
It may come as a surprise to many that a full 60 per cent of Ontario’s energy mix is derived from nuclear energy according to the Canada Energy Regulation.
Without the contributions of nuclear energy in meeting energy consumption needs, it is unlikely that the provincial government would have phased out coal-fired power plants at the speed that it did, the high costs and relatively low output of implementing other renewable sources such as wind and solar.
This decision led to a precipitous drop in the number of “smog days” in cities throughout Ontario, dropping from 48 in 2005 to near zero in 2017. In concert with the rollout of other green energy projects, our use of nuclear energy has fed into an 87 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions in Ontario’s electricity sector.