The Green Market Transition
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The Green Market Transition

Carbon Taxes, Energy Subsidies and Smart Instrument Mixes

Edited by Stefan E. Weishaar, Larry Kreiser, Janet E. Milne, Hope Ashiabor and Michael Mehling

The Paris Agreement’s key objective is the strengthening of the global response to climate change by transitioning the world to an increasingly green economy. In this book, environmental tax and climate law experts examine carbon taxes energy subsidies, and support schemes for carbon and energy policies. Chapters reflect on the underlying policy dynamics and the constraints of various fiscal measures, and consider the harmonisation of smart instrument mixes.
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Chapter 8: Considerations against subsidies and tax incentives for nuclear energy

Hans Sprohge and Larry Kreiser

Abstract

In the United States (U.S.), subsidies and tax preferences for generating electricity from nuclear energy provide incentives for creating difficult to remediate environmental damage. Nuclear energy is erroneously claimed by proponents as an environmentally friendly way to meet the country’s energy needs. Energy can be extracted from atoms either through fusion or fission. Theoretically, energy from fusion is limitless without any environmental consequences. The problem is that energy from fusion is not possible under current technology. Although it is true that the process of fission per se does not emit any greenhouse gases, it is not true that electricity generated by nuclear power plants is environmentally friendly. Over their life cycle, nuclear power plants emit greenhouse gases. The worst threat is posed by radiation from nuclear power plant accidents and from nuclear waste. Countless studies about the impact of this radiation on human health and the environment are contradictory. Some studies assert that the impact is not all that bad; other studies assert that the impact is devastating. Determining which position is correct is a difficult task. In light of the known and contradictory claims about the environmental and human health impact of nuclear energy, the issue in the U.S. is whether any new nuclear power plants should be granted subsidies and tax incentives. Prudence suggests erring on the side of caution. The chapter commences by first explaining the essence of nuclear energy and then examining the advantages and disadvantages of fusion and fission; subsequently, the chapter examines the U.S. nuclear industry, its subsidies, tax incentives and environmental effects.

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