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False claims persist (on Frontline and elsewhere) that nuclear-free Germany will emit more CO2

The suggestion made during the Frontline program that Germany will emit more Co2 as a result of its nuclear phase-out is another perfect example of those skeptics who claim that the German nuclear phase-out was a panicked overreaction and could even amount to environmental vandalism.  But science disproves these claims. Thanks to Arne Jungjohann at the Heinrich Boell Institute for the following rebuttal:

Looking at the German nuclear phase-out, some have argued that Germany will produce an extra 300m tones of carbon dioxide between now and 2020. However, Numerous feasibility studies, amongst others by the Federal Environmental Agency or an independent Commission on Energy Choices , have shown that the nuclear phase-out will not jeopardize Germany's ambitious climate action efforts: reducing carbon emissions by 40 percent by 2020 and by at least 80 percent by 2050. If emissions were to rise due to the nuclear phase-out, the government would have to come up with compensating measures to reach these targets.

However, it is unlikely that emissions will rise, because according to the rules of the EU cap-and-trade system there is a cap for emissions from the energy sector and that of course also applies for Germany. Even if Germany’s nuclear capacity was to be replaced by using energy generated in coal plants, the total energy emissions would still have to be reduced. This could be achieved by either shifting to more natural gas or by replacing older coal plants with new and more efficient plants. That's the genius of a cap-and-trade system. Believe it or not, with that system in place, Germany's nuclear phase-out will even cause emissions in other European countries to fall.

The German nuclear phase-out – which is being followed by other countries including Switzerland, Italy and Belgium – is in reality another important element to accelerate the long-term strategy of a transition towards a low-carbon economy.

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