Countries with nuclear energy plans have been slower to implement renewable technologies and cut emissions.
That’s according to new research by the University of Sussex and the Vienna School of International Studies which claims a strong national commitment to nuclear goes hand in hand with weak performance on climate change targets.
Researchers found the most progress towards reducing carbon emissions and increasing the use of renewable energy sources has been made in nations without nuclear energy.
The study states nuclear-free countries such as Denmark, Ireland and Norway have reduced their emissions by 6% since 2005 and increased the use of green energy to 26%.
Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden, which are among those nations with existing nuclear commitments but with plans to decommission, reduced emissions by 11% and had boosted renewable energy to 19%.
Countries that plan to maintain or expand nuclear capacity such as Bulgaria, Hungary and the UK only managed a 16% renewables share and emissions on average went up by 3%, according to the study.
The researchers add the UK has a “mixed picture” as emissions have been reduced by 16% but only 5% of its energy comes from renewables.
They added the “gigantic” investments of time, money and expertise in nuclear power plants, such as the proposed Hinkley Point can create dependency and “lock-in – a sense of no turning back in the nation’s psyche”.
The final decision on the £18 billion nuclear project has been delayed by the UK Government.
Lead Author Andrew Lawrence of the Vienna School of International Relations said: “As the viability of the proposed Hinkley plant is once again cast into doubt by the May government, we should recall that – as is true of nuclear fallout – nuclear power’s inordinate expense and risks extend across national borders and current generations.
“Conversely, cheaper, safer and more adaptable alternative energy sources are available for all countries.”