While publications from the World Wildlife Fund that are referenced to in the last IPCC report have recently received some public attention, sources related to corporate (eg nuclear) interests seem to be of no concern – even though they are used to sustain more central claims than the infamous WWF report. The IPCC’s claim that nuclear energy “is therefore an effective GHG mitigation option” seems to be entirely based on reports by nuclear corporations and their lobbying organisations….
An error in the IPCC’s fourth assessment (AR4) report (well explained here) has recently been reported by a number of newspapers and caused some excitement within the blogoshpere (mainly amongst climate sceptics, who claim they ‘do not believe’ in the scientific evidence of global warming that is due to human activities such as burning fossil fuels): A projection that Himalaya glaciers may disappear until 2035 included in the AR4 was not based on peer-reviewed science, but solely on a report of the World Wildlife Fund WWF (this version already includes a correction).
Glaciers in the Himalaya are receding faster than in any other part of the world (see Table 10.9) and, if the present rate continues, the likelihood of them disappearing by the year 2035 and perhaps sooner is very high if the Earth keeps warming at the current rate. Its total area will likely shrink from the present 500,000 to 100,000 km2 by the year 2035 (WWF, 2005).
Other than some optimists may believe, none of this stops climate change from happening. There are people more expert then me explaining this every day – so I decided to have a look at something different:
I do not believe the climate movement should take over the defense of the IPCC or peer-review science for two reasons: First, scientists are able and better placed to speak for themselves and second, there I one point in which I may agree with some sceptics (and certainly most scientists): Don’t take anything for granted only because it is published by a nobel-price winning institution. There may be specific interests involved that are worth having a look at. However, I do not believe this or the consensus mechanism leads the IPCC to exaggerate global warming – on the contrary. As NASA scientist Jim Hansen has pointed out, science rather tends to be overly cautious in its warnings.
So I decided to check if the WWF was the only non-scientific source cited in the AR4 that might be suspected to have a partisan view on things. Now – surprise, surprise – it isn’t. I started off with working group one (the physical science basis), chapter two (an arbitrary choice) and found our eco-campaigning friends from British Petroleum, cited as BP 2005. To be fair, that is one source out of hundreds and their numbers are only used to extrapolate other statistics for two further years.Not quite a big scandal, but a first hint that non-scientific sources do not always have to have a pro-environmental bias…
I then went on to working group three – mitigation – and looked at the chapter on energy supply. Quite a number of the references in that chapter are not from peer-reviewed journals. However, I left aside those from public and international governmental bodies (even though some of those clearly have pro-nuclear or fossil fuel positions) and only checked for the involvement of coroprate interests. And here we go:
Total life-cycle GHG emissions per unit of electricity
produced from nuclear power are below 40 gCO2-eq/kWh
(10 gC-eq/kWh), similar to those for renewable energy sources
(Figure 4.18). (WEC, 2004a; Vattenfall, 2005). Nuclear power
is therefore an effective GHG mitigation option, especially
through license extensions of existing plants enabling
investments in retro-fitting and upgrading. Nuclear power
currently avoids approximately 2.2–2.6 GtCO2/yr if that power
were instead produced from coal (WNA, 2003; Rogner, 2003)
or 1.5 GtCO2/yr if using the world average CO2 emissions for
electricity production in 2000 of 540 gCO2/kWh (WEC, 2001).
However, Storm van Leeuwen and Smith (2005) give much
higher figures for the GHG emissions from ore processing and
construction and decommissioning of nuclear power plants.
WEC is the world energy council – basically a confederation of enery corporations, including Vattenfall itself, a swedish firm operating nuclear power plants in several european countries. WNA is the world nuclear association – “the international organization that promotes nuclear energy and supports the many companies that comprise the global nuclear industry.” (from the WNA website). Rogner 2003 is a contribution to a conference, downloadable from the WNA website. Storm van Leuween and Smith (2005) refers to a study by Dutch consultants for the European Greens. None of these sources is peer-reviewed, most of them (and those that have been given more weight, see citation above) are related to nuclear power business interests.
In this case, I didn’t pick out the one exception from loads of peer-reviewed science. And the question isn’t negligible at all: While the dangers from radioactive waste, possible accidents and uranium mining are not necessarily the core business of climate science and thus the IPCC, the question how much carbon dioxide is emitted from nuclear power plants and associated technology sure is. And the IPCC offers an answer to that question – one that seems to be entirely based on contributions from nuclear companies and their associations.
Another area that may be worth a deeper look is carbon capurage and storage – quite a few of the sourced cited in that respect are related to business interests as well. This following is an arbitrary choice of references in chapter 4 of WG 3 that may be (or often clearly are) related to fossile, nuclear or ccs corporations. Shall I have a look on the paragraphs about carbon trading one of these days?
BP, 2004: Statistical review of world energy, BP Oil Company Ltd.,
06480 accessed 05/06/07.
BP, 2005: BP Statistical Review of world energy. BP Oil Company Ltd.,
BP, 2006: BP Statistical review of world energy. BP Oil Company Ltd.,
London. http://www.bp.com accessed 05/06/07.
CAPP, 2006: Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, http://www.capp.
ca/raw.asp?x=1&dt=NTV&e=PDF&dn=103586 accessed 05/06/07.
Dellero, N. and F. Chessé, 2006: New nuclear plant economics. IYNC
2006 conference paper 234, Stockholm, Sweden – Olkiluoto, Finland,
18-23 June, AREVA, World Nuclear Association, http://www.worldnuclear.
org/info/inf63.htm accessed 05/06/07.
Dow Jones, 2006: Kratwerk mit pilotanlage fur CO2 abscheidung in
Beitrib. Dow Jones Trade News Emissions, 19 May, 10, 11 pp.
Hendriks, C., W. Graus and F. van Bergen, 2004: Global carbon dioxide
storage potential. Ecofys, TNO, Utrecht, Netherlands.
(Ecofys is a consultancy company that is doing JI/CDM and CCS, among others)
Huijer, K., 2005: Trends in oil spills from tanker ships 1995-2004:
International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation (ITOPF). London.
Maeda, H., 2005: The global nuclear fuel market – supply
and demand 2005-2030. WNA Market Report, World
Nuclear Association Annual Symposium 2005,
http://world-nuclear.org/sym/2005/maeda.htm accessed 02/07/07.
Mago, R., 2004: Nuclear power – an option to meet the long term
electricity needs of the country. Nuclear Power Corporation of India
Ltd, Mumbai, India.
NEI, 2006: Nuclear facts. Nuclear Energy Institute, http://www.nei.org/
doc.asp?catnum=2&catid=106 accessed 02/07/07.
“The Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) is the policy organization of the nuclear energy and technologies industry and participates in both the national and global policy-making process.” (from http://www.nei.org)
Plouchart, G., A. Fradet, and A.Prieur, 2006: The potential of CO2
Capture and Storage of worldwide electricity related greenhouse
gases emissions in oil and gas fields. Paper at the 8th Greenhouse gas
technologies conference, June 19 – 22, 2006: Trondheim, Norway.
(Georgia Plouchart and Anne Prieur attended the conference for the french petroleum institute IFP, a public body that has however invested in an enterprise that is supposed to have its share of the ccs market, Aude Fradet attended for the energy corporation edf)
Rogner, H.H., 2003: Nuclear power and climate change. World Climate
Change Conference (WCCC), Moscow (20 September-3 October),
Shell, 2006: Sustainable choices, stakeholder voices: 2005. Sustainable
Development Report, pp. 36.
UIC, 2005: Civil liability for nuclear damage. Uranium Information
Centre, Nuclear Issues Briefing Paper # 70, December, http://www.
uic.com.au/nip70.htm accessed 02/07/07.
The Centre is funded by companies involved in uranium exploration, mining and export in Australia.
Vattenfall, 2005: Certified environmental product declaration of electricity
from Forsmark NPP (updated 2005) and Ringhals NPP. S-P-00021&
S-P-00026, June 2004. http://www.environdec.com/reg/021/Chapters/
reg/026/Chapters/Dokument/EPD-Ringhals.pdf accessed 03/07/07.
new links: http://www.environdec.com/pageId.asp?id=130&menu=4,14,0&epdId=24
(the ‘independent’ EDP has been developed and carried out by the swedish enivoronmental managment council, one of whose three member organisations is – Vattenfall. The procedure is following an ISO norm)
WNA, 2003: Global warming. Issue Brief, January 2003, World Nuclear
Association, http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/inf59.htm accessed
WNA, 2005a: The global nuclear fuel market: supply and demand 2005-
2030. World Nuclear Association report, http://www.world-nuclear.org/
info/ accessed 03/07/07.
WNA, 2005b: The new economics of nuclear power. World Nuclear
Association report, http://www.world-nuclear.org/reference/pdf/
economics.pdf accessed 03/07/07.
WNA, 2006a: World nuclear power reactors 2005-06 and uranium
requirements. World Nuclear Association, May 2006, http://www.
world-nuclear.org/info/reactors.htm accessed 03/07/07.
WNA, 2006b: Nuclear power in China. Issue Brief, World Nuclear
Association, February 2006: http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/inf63.htm