Skip to main content

How could one call nuclear energy as a part of the solution to global warming?

Letter by Shankar Sharma, Power & Climate Policy Analyst based in Karnataka, to Rafael Mariano Grossi, Director General, International Atomic Energy Agency, France, wondering how could one call nuclear energy as a part of the solution to global warming:
Whereas it is very disappointing to note that IAEA may have no satisfactory responses to the concerns I have raised in my earlier email of 19th Nov. 2021, as forwarded below, or that IAEA did not deem it necessary to respond to such genuine public concerns, I can only assume that the contents of that email have been noted by you and your team.
Now that most parts of the world are seriously concerned that "Ukraine conflict could jeopardize safety of nuclear facilities", a statement attributed to you, is there not an even more urgency for IAEA to diligently review its continuing advocacy on nuclear energy as a part of the solution to global warming? You were also reported to have stated: “the best action to ensure the safety and security of Ukraine’s nuclear facilities and its people would be for this armed conflict to end now.” We all know that such armed conflicts in the vicinity of nuclear facilities in any part of the world cannot be wished away entirely, which means there will always be such credible risks to the safety and security of nuclear facilities and the communities around them.
It will be a shock if IAEA is not aware of the increasing global level concerns over the potential of Russian shelling of Ukraine nuclear power plants leading to a major catastrophe similar to that of Chernobyl or Fukushima. A few of such concerns are as in the news links in the end. I hope IAEA will not dismiss such concerns from different parts of the world as frivolous. Whereas, the entire global community can be expected to be really concerned about the possible impacts of such a potential catastrophe on the affected communities, there is no realistic chance of the global community preventing such wars and/ or nuclear accidents, even though they are keen to do so, if global agencies such as IAEA continue with their ill-conceived advocacy on more of nuclear power reactors.
Since such armed conflicts near nuclear facilities, and/ or nuclear accidents cannot be entirely prevented, should there be more number of nuclear reactors, as IAEA seems to be advocating for? Can IAEA assure the global population that a vastly more number of nuclear reactors, as some countries such as India and China, are planning for will not be against the true interest of the global population, and that no nuclear mishap will occur?
The advocates of larger role for nuclear power as a part of green energy transition, assuming that they are all truly responsible in their societal level obligations, should guarantee that such a catastrophic nuclear fallout scenario will be prevented. What sort of governance mechanism and/or regulatory mechanism will IAEA implement to prevent such credible risk? Since IAEA continues to advocate a much higher role for nuclear power in the guise of green power, is there a mechanism wherein one agency/ few individuals can be held directly responsible for any unfortunate nuclear mishap?
This question becomes vastly more relevant in the case of India, which has some nuclear reactors close to densely populated areas, and which seems to have been influenced by the related advocacy by agencies such as IAEA to have many more such nuclear reactors in the coming years; not far from densely populated cities. It has become much more relevant to the people in India to question the acceptability of such credible threats of 'nuclear terror' from the growing number of nuclear power reactors spread across the length and breadth of the country, in the larger context that the aggregate nuclear power capacity in the country is only 6,780 MW, which is only about 1.7% of the total electric power generating capacity (as on 11.2.2022), and that this percentage of nuclear power to the total power capacity can only come down further.
Can we say that IAEA still believes that we can afford to ignore the cautionary approach strongly supported by many reports/ articles which have appeared in the media and by leading personalities such as Mikhail Gorbachev, UN Secretary General, Japanese Prime Minister at the time of Fukushima disaster, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Dr A Gopala Krishnan (of AERB, India)?
IAEA's diligent and responsible review of its stand on the relevance nuclear power for a safer world, in the context of all the issues discussed above, and in the perspective of overall welfare of global community, will not only help many densely populated countries like India, Pakistan, Bangladesh to possibly avoid/ minimise any major nuclear fallout scenario, but will also prevent the wastage of enormous resources in building such risky and complex installations.

News links:



There is need to distinguish between RT-PCR positives and clinical cases of Covid-19

Insisting on the need to distinguish between RT-PCR positives and clinical cases of Covid-19, an open letter by 20 doctors and medical professionals: *** Firstly the virus has gone through the Indian population enough and is now well established as an endemic infection which shall keep causing flu like illness in only few people as most will not even develop severe symptoms. The ICMR had already called for the suspension of testing anyone not having any symptoms (Jan 2022). Children have been shown to tackle the virus much easier than adults. Children also do not pass Covid infection to others that easily as adults do to children. Schools have opened and no single outbreak or incidences of severe disease have been documented. Therefore healthy children must not be tested for Covid anymore unless the treating doctor in hospitalised cases requires it. Calling people (children or adults) with RT-PCR positive report as “cases” is faulty. A “case” is a person who has disease and presents wi

Musician and follower of Dr Ambedkar? A top voilinist has this rare combination!

Some time back, a human rights defender, Vidya Bhushan Rawat, who frequently writes for Counterview, forwarded to me a video interview with Guru Prabhakar Dhakade, calling him one of India's well known violinists.  Dhakade is based in Nagpur and has devoted his life for the Hindustani classical music. A number of his disciples have now been part of Hindi cinema world in Mumbai, says Rawat. He has performed live in various parts of the country as well as abroad. What however attracted me was Dhakade's assertions in video about Dr BR Ambedkar, India's undisputed Dalit icon. Recorded several years back at his residence and music school in Nagpur, Dhakade not only speaks candidly about issues he faced, but that he is a believer in Dr Ambedkar's philosophy. It is in this context that Dhakade narrates his problems, even as stating that he is determined to achieve his goal. A violinist and a follower of Ambedkar? This was new to me. Rarely do musicians are found to take a

Define Dalit not by caste but action, belief; include all who oppose inequality

By Ajaz Ashraf* Dalit rights leader Martin Macwan’s endeavour has been to redefine the term Dalit and delink it from caste, best exemplified by the headline to this interview. An academician of repute, he financed his studies by working as wage labour. During his college days, he joined a group of non-Dalit intellectuals, comprising a professor each from the Christian, Parsi, Muslim and upper caste Hindu communities, to work with Dalits. Their work invited a backlash. On 25 January 1986, the reactionary landlords of the Darbar community in Golana village, Anand district, gunned down four of his colleagues, wounded another 18 and set houses on fire. This prompted Macwan to establish the Navsarjan Trust, which aims to skill Dalits and expand their consciousness regarding the systemic oppression of which they are principal victims. On 25 January 2002, on the anniversary of the Golana massacre , he led a march through rural Gujarat. His experience of the march had him write a book wherein