Question: I understand that – in moving to a carbon-free economy – you advocate building a new generation of nuclear power stations. How are you going to persuade people like me to accept new nuclear power plants when no-one seems to have a strategy for dealing with the radioactive waste from the old installations?
You are correct that no government has a fully worked out or funded strategy for dealing with nuclear waste, though some governments (Finland, Sweden and Slovenia) are doing better on this than are the US or UK ones. Ideally, we would do without both nuclear power and fossil fuels, and get all our energy from renewables. However, the EU gets less than 10% of its total energy from renewables today. Its target is 20% by 2020, which must be reached. That still leaves 80% from other sources. The earliest realistic date by which Europe can be 100% renewable is around 2040 – 2050. That is why we need low-carbon bridge technologies to get us there without destroying the climate. Carbon dioxide is also a form of waste and it is better to keep waste (in the form of nuclear waste) down here, where we can at least manage it, than to put it up into the atmosphere where we have no control over it.