Nuclear energy and carbon taxes

3 June 2002

The UK government's objective of reducing carbon emissions by 20% by 2010 could cost British industry and domestic users £55 for each tonne of carbon discharged into the atmosphere, unless new nuclear plants are built to replace those that will shortly be decommissioned. According to a study by Cambridge Econometrics, the carbon tax needed would be reduced by £22 per tonne if nuclear capacity were to be maintained at current levels.

The research suggests that the measures proposed in the Performance and Innovation Unit's energy review, published in February 2002 to encourage renewable sources of energy and to reduce energy consumption, is unlikely to be enough to achieve the government's low carbon objectives.

Norman Askew, chief executive of BNFL, said that nuclear generation was the only credible secure solution to achieving real and lasting reductions in the UK's CO2 emissions. He said: "Nuclear generation is safe, secure, environmentally friendly and cost effective. BNFL believes that, in order to meet our environmental commitments, we need nuclear and renewable generation together as part of a balanced energy mix."

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