Sustainable Development Commission

Sustainable Development Commission

The Sustainable Development Commission is the UK Government’s independent watchdog on sustainable development, and a Non-Departmental Public Body. Members report directly to Prime Minister Gordon Brown and the First Ministers of Scotland and Wales.

The Chairman, Jonathon Porritt, plays a central role, developing and steering the work programmes. The Commission is supported by over 40 dedicated policy staff, directed by Andrew Lee.

Recent work includes:

[ Stock Take - Delivering improvements in existing housing] What is the potential for refurbishment of our existing houses to higher environmental standards?

[ I will if you will] . A report on how we can all become green consumers.

[ Is nuclear the answer?] A report in response to the UK Government’s 2006 Energy Review.

Position on nuclear power

The 2006 SDC report into nuclear power presents "a balanced examination of the pros and cons of the nuclear option". The report accepts that nuclear is a low carbon technology, with a good safety record in the UK. Nuclear power could generate large amounts of electricity, contribute to stabilising CO2 emissions and add to the diversity of the UK's energy supply. However, the report argues that even if the UK's existing nuclear capacity was doubled, it would only give an 8% cut on CO2 emissions by 2035 (and nothing before 2010). There are also various disadvantages which must be considered: [ Nuclear power is not the answer to tackling climate change or security of supply, according to the Sustainable Development Commission] ]

*Long-term waste - no long term solutions are yet available, let alone acceptable to the general public.
*Cost - the economics of nuclear new-build are highly uncertain.
*Inflexibility - nuclear would lock the UK into a centralised distribution system for the next 50 years, at exactly the time when opportunities for microgeneration and renewable energy are stronger than ever.
*Undermining energy efficiency - a new nuclear programme would give out the wrong signal to consumers and businesses, implying that a major technological fix is all that's required, weakening the urgent action needed on energy efficiency.
*International security - if the UK brings forward a new nuclear power programme, we cannot deny other countries the same technology. With lower safety standards, they run higher risks of nuclear accidents, radiation exposure, weapons proliferation and terrorist attacks.

On balance, the SDC found that these disadvantages outweighed the advantages of nuclear. However, the SDC does not rule out further research into new nuclear technologies and future technological developments which may justify a re-examination of the issue.


External links

* [ Sustainable Development Commission website]
* [ 'No quick fix' from nuclear power]
* [ Nuclear Reactions]

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