'Nuclear option' key to meeting CO2 targets

Friday, September 19, 2008

IRELAND WILL not be able to achieve a 50 per cent cut in carbon emissions by 2050 if the Government continues to rule out the "nuclear option", according to the executive director of the International Energy Agency (IEA).

Nobuo Tanaka, who will address an Asia-Europe Foundation forum on energy sustainability in Dublin today, told The Irish Times he realised that nuclear power was "taboo" here - mainly because of Sellafield.

But he said a heavily oil-dependent country such as Ireland should "certainly" consider going nuclear. "This option must be open - otherwise it will be very difficult to meet climate targets [of halving carbon dioxide emissions by 2050]."

Mr Tanaka, a former government minister in Japan, said the first priority should be energy conservation - to make the use of energy much more efficient.

"This is a win-strategy because it is better for energy security and the climate."

The second priority identified by the IEA was to diversify energy sources, to reduce oil dependency. Gas would be "very important", but the Government should also be investing in renewable energy sources such as wind, solar and wave energy.

Although the IEA would like to see a reduction in the price of oil, Mr Tanaka agreed that its doubling in price over the past year would encourage more investment in alternatives as well as a consumer switch to fuel-efficient cars, for example.

He said this trend would be intensified if governments imposed carbon taxes.

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