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Can Nuclear Power Save the Kyoto Protocol?

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  • Ujjayant Chakravorty
  • Bertrand Magne
  • Michel Moreaux

Abstract

Global warming is primarily caused by carbon produced by the burning of fossil fuels, especially coal. However, nuclear power is carbon free. We develop a dynamic model of the world energy economy that includes fossil fuels and nuclear power. If global warming is to be controlled, nuclear power becomes economical, but a surprising result is that currently known stocks of uranium may only last for a very limited time. We find the scarcity rent of uranium to be large. Since only four countries possess most of the world's uranium, this could lead to an OPEC-like uranium cartel. We model advanced nuclear technology, prototypes of which are already operational, that can reuse a significant portion of nuclear waste. We find that this technology can supply energy for an indefinite period. If global energy demand were to stagnate along with population late in this century, the imputed price of carbon today may be much lower than previously thought.

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Paper provided by Department of Economics, Emory University (Atlanta) in its series Emory Economics with number 0407.

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Date of creation: Jul 2004
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Handle: RePEc:emo:wp2003:0407

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  1. Chakravorty, Ujjayant & Magne, Bertrand & Moreaux, Michel, 2006. "A Hotelling model with a ceiling on the stock of pollution," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 30(12), pages 2875-2904, December.
  2. Marian Radetzki, 2000. "Coal or Nuclear in New Power Stations: The Political Economy of an Undesirable but Necessary Choice," The Energy Journal, International Association for Energy Economics, vol. 0(Number 1), pages 135-147.
  3. Manne, Alan & Richels, Richard, 2004. "The impact of learning-by-doing on the timing and costs of CO2 abatement," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 26(4), pages 603-619, July.
  4. Chakravorty, Ujjayant & Roumasset, James & Tse, Kinping, 1997. "Endogenous Substitution among Energy Resources and Global Warming," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 105(6), pages 1201-34, December.
  5. Parry, Ian, 1997. "Productivity Trends in the Natural Resource Industries," Discussion Papers dp-97-39, Resources For the Future.
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