How to reduce greenhouse gases? No‑no to nuclear, yes to renewable

Lay summary by Beyza Mina Ordu

In a recent study accepted for publication at the Energy Economics, Dr. Jaforullah and Dr. King investigate the impact of two energy sources, nuclear and renewable, on the reduction of man-made greenhouse gases (GHG). Contrary to popular belief and previous evidences, they show that an increase in nuclear energy consumption does not reduce the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, whereas an increase in renewable energy consumption actually decreases CO2 emissions. These findings have important implications for policy-makers.

87% of the world’s energy supply comes from burning fossil fuels and is also the principal reason of GHG, leading to climate change. Hence, finding a reliable energy source but concurrently reducing energy dependency on fossils is of utmost importance to combat climate change. There are mainly two alternatives on fossil fuels; nuclear energy and renewable energy sources (hydro, wind solar, geothermal and biomass). Authors examine whether these two alternatives really help to reduce CO2 emissions in the US during the period between 1965 and 2012. Given that US is a major emitter and responsible for one-sixth of carbon emissions, results give hints on policy implications for other countries, as well.

Dr. Jaforullah and Dr. King reveal striking evidence that renewable energy help to alleviate CO2 emission levels, but nuclear energy does not. As such, encouraging renewable investments rather than nuclear is more likely to mitigate future levels of carbon dioxide emission levels. Furthermore, they show that an increase in energy prices negatively affect CO2 emissions and therefore carbon tax would be helpful on fostering renewable energy investments. However, results also propose that price increases in energy has an adverse impact on economic output. Therefore, policy‑makers should be utterly careful in applying carbon tax policy and should be aware of the intertwining nature of economy‑energy nexus.

For further information

Read the Energy Economics original research article which this summary is based on Does the use of renewable energy sources mitigate CO2 emissions? A reassessment of the US evidence (April 2015).

Visit the profile of the research ambassador, Beyza Mina Ordu, who wrote this summary.

STM Digest is a collection of lay summaries published next to original research articles on ScienceDirect, provided free of charge, and accessible to everyone.

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