Major energy specialist criticises Belgium’s plans to phase out nuclear power

Major energy specialist criticises Belgium’s plans to phase out nuclear power
Credit: The Shift Project

The energy engineer Jean-Marc Jancovici, creator of the concept of a carbon footprint and author of several books, has spent the last 20 years considering ways to build carbon-free economies and how to confront climate breakdown.

In a recent interview with RTBF, Jancovici addressed Belgium’s desire to phase out its nuclear power network and firmly stated that replacing nuclear power stations with renewable energy alternatives is nonsense.

"Climate change is a race against the clock,” said the French engineer. “When you are in such a situation, replacing one thing that is not the main problem with something else is a waste of time. The desire to replace nuclear power with renewable energies means replacing energy that is already decarbonised with other carbon-free energies. What is needed is to replace fossil fuels with a combination of energy-saving and carbon-free energies, namely nuclear and renewables."

Jancovici makes clear that the notion of nuclear power being dangerous is overrepresented. He explains that Belgium and the rest of the world will be forced one way or another to give up on fossil fuels.

Nuclear plant in Doel. Credit: Ugo Realfonzo

"All Western countries are part of globalisation,” Jancovici said. “Even if we do not consume fossil fuels domestically, we benefit from a globalised system boosted by these energies. These fossil fuels are exhaustible: we will have to make do with less anyway."

When asked if the climate crisis is beyond solving and the world is beyond saving, the energy specialist divided his answer into two parts: "If you’re asking 'Is there absolutely nothing left to do about the situation?' the answer is obviously no. If the question is, 'Can we now take our destiny back into our own hands so that we avoid any unpleasant consequences with regard to global warming?', the answer is no as well."

“In other words, it is not too late to act, but it is too late to avoid all the unpleasant consequences of what we have already set in motion.”

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