Nuclear Fallout
France Adopts Hypocrisy in Bill Form

It’s not often you see a law passed enshrining two opposite aims, but that’s exactly what’s happening in France, which today is adopting an energy transition law aimed at cutting emissions while reducing the country’s reliance on zero-carbon nuclear energy. Bloomberg reports:

The sweeping energy transition law reflects a campaign pledge more than three years ago by President Francois Hollande to cut nuclear energy in favor of renewables. The law was delayed by industry resistance and ministerial changes, while the opposition-led Senate watered down nuclear provisions. […]

The focus on nuclear has eclipsed wide-ranging provisions contained in the law on carbon emissions, fossil fuels, energy efficiency of buildings and recycling, including a ban from January on stores handing out plastic bags.

No country in the world gets more of its energy from nuclear power than France. More than 75 percent of French power is generated by its nuclear reactors. Yet instead of touting this as the green boon it is (nuclear energy is virtually the only baseload energy source that doesn’t emit greenhouse gases), it seems embarrassed by its position. The new law will reduce nuclear’s share of French energy supply to roughly 50 percent over the next ten years.

This would be a hard bill to sell with a straight face on its own, but the fact that it’s being packaged with higher efficiency standards and ambitious renewables targets—and therefore being hailed as an eco-triumph—borders on the surreal. French environment minister Segolene Royal lauded the new law as a “the most advanced law of its kind among industrial countries.” Surely something is being lost in translation.

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