Paul Dorfman and Staffan Qvist both want to save the climate. But one of them wants to rid the world of nuclear reactors while the other wants to build more of them. We brought them together for a debate.
Dorfman, 64, of University College London, is founder and chair of the Nuclear Consulting Group, a collection of experts and activists working on nuclear energy and radiation medicine, nuclear proliferation and the sustainability of energy systems.
Qvist, 34, completed his Ph.D. in nuclear engineering at the University of California at Berkeley and has since been conducting research in the U.S. and Sweden on the safety and economics of nuclear power. He currently runs an energy consultancy firm in Great Britain. He is the author of the book “A Bright Future: How Some Countries Have Solved Climate Change and the Rest Can Follow” together with the economist Joshua Goldstein.
DER SPIEGEL: Mr. Qvist, do lobbyists view the climate crisis as an opportunity to reframe dangerous nuclear energy as a technology that could save us?
Qvist: Well, I would take objection to the framing of that question, because it suspects anyone who finds arguments in favor of nuclear power of being a lobbyist – and devalues his arguments. And there are good, factual arguments, such as nuclear power being an energy source which does not produce any greenhouse gas emissions during operation. Which has additional benefits of not being dependent on the weather. The fact that it is climate friendly is indisputably one of the main reasons we should look at nuclear power as a part of the energy system.
DER SPIEGEL: How do you see it, Mr. Dorfman?
Dorfman: Why should anyone build a nuclear power plant? Renewables are much cheaper. The climate crisis is going to hit us hard and quicker than we planned for – but this actually speaks against nuclear power.
DER SPIEGEL: Why?
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