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March 3, 2021 45 min
Zero emissions by 2050 and at the latest 2060. That has been the rallying cry for many of the world’s largest economies, including the US, UK, Japan, Canada, and most notably, China. But with almost 80% of carbon emissions coming from energy, demand for electricity continuing to grow by leaps and bounds, and storage batteries still in their infancy, it’s not clear how these countries will live up to their promises. The answer, say an increasing number of environmentalists and energy experts, lies with nuclear energy. They say this much vilified generator of power requires fewer materials and produces the least amount of carbon of any energy source - all with a physical footprint 50 times smaller than solar. Nuclear energy has also proven itself for almost 70 years, and currently supplies 10% of the world’s energy mix. Critics say that this seemingly simple solution to the climate change challenge comes with potentially catastrophic costs that far outweigh the benefits. As the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi reactors in Japan demonstrated ten years ago, the radioactive energy released by fission can wreak havoc on the surrounding environment, threatening the long term health and lives of surrounding populations, and contaminating vast areas of land so that they are no longer habitable. The cost to build but also decommission nuclear plants makes them a far more expensive source of energy than green alternatives. Far better to address the climate change crisis and the world’s energy needs with solar, wind, hydro, and geothermal energy.  Arguing for the motion is Todd Allen, the Department Chair of Nuclear Engineering and Radiological Sciences at the University of Michigan. Arguing against the motion is Gregory Jaczko, Former Chairman of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Lecturer at Princeton University, and author of Confessions of a Rogue Nuclear Regulator. Sources: Joe Biden, Global News, Billionaires Note, Linda Gunter, Nuscale Power, Tomo News US, Fox 5, Senator Catherine Cortez Masto,The Nuclear Institute UK, Washington Post The host of the Munk Debates is Rudyard Griffiths - @rudyardg. Tweet your comments about this episode to @munkdebate or comment on our Facebook page To sign up for a weekly email reminder for this podcast, send an email to To support civil and substantive debate on the big questions of the day, consider becoming a Munk Member at Members receive access to our 10+ year library of great debates in HD video, a free Munk Debates book, newsletter and ticketing privileges at our live events. This podcast is a project of the Munk Debates, a Canadian charitable organization dedicated to fostering civil and substantive public dialogue - The Munk Debates podcast is produced by Antica, Canada’s largest private audio production company -   Executive Producer: Stuart Coxe, CEO Antica Productions Senior Producer: Christina Campbell Editor: Kieran Lynch Producer: Nicole Edwards Associate Producer: Abhi Raheja
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