So what are the broader cultural, political and economic ripples of the German nuclear phase-out? On the one hand, it will send a signal to the world that nuclear is dated and dangerous and that switching it off is a greater priority than limiting carbon emissions as swiftly as possible. It will also damage the nuclear industry. These two factors together will probably decrease the likelihood that the nuclear industry will succeed in finding ways to reverse its cost curve and make this large-scale low-carbon power source cheaper in the future (unlike renewables, nuclear is currently getting more expensive rather than less).
On the other hand if, specifically as the result of the nuclear phase out, Germany massively ups its level of ambition for renewables and is able to demonstrate that it’s possible to maintain public support for high energy prices to stimulate a clean-energy revolution, that too could influence the world far beyond its own borders.
This is from Duncan Clarke in the Guardian, in what is the smartest analysis I’ve read so far on Germany’s nuclear phase-out. His piece is not, as he puts it, an argument for nuclear power, but rather “an argument for thinking about things the right way.”
It boils down to this: to meaningfully measure the impact of any action on a climate change, you need to recognise that the world is interconnected and measure the effects as widely as possible. In addition, you need to ask the right question, which means ““ just as with a medical experiment ““ comparing “with and without” the action, not “before and after” it.
Anyone interested in climate and energy policy should read this piece.