|As a follow-up to the Agency s 1991 symposium in
Helsinki on Electricity and the Environment, an
international symposium on Electricity, Health and the
Environment was organized in Vienna in October by the Agency
and nine other international organizations1. The main
objective was to exchange information and enhance co-operation
between interested parties in the field of electricity demand
analysis and supply planning, aiming towards implementing
sustainable policies in the power sector, taking into account
economic, social, health and environmental factors. Topics
covered included data acquisition, the development of computer
models for the analysis and assessment of different energy
systems, the risks associated with emissions of CO2
and other greenhouse gases, the health effects of chemical
releases, the subjective perceptions of risk, and the inclusion
of external costs.
The symposium concluded that:
- - Much progress has been made since the Helsinki meeting
as a result of the fact that more data and better computer tools,
including those developed within the DECADES project, have become
available. What is needed now is to promote the use of these
tools in comparative assessment studies. This is being done
through technical co-operation projects.
- - Nuclear power can, and already does, play an important
role in reducing CO2 emissions and other pollutants
from the electricity sector. Results were presented showing that
the health impacts from nuclear power plants are far lower than
those from coal fired plants.
- - Significant uncertainties still exist in a number of
areas, for example the risks associated with CO2
emissions and the effects of these emissions on the average
temperature, and the risks of small releases of chemical
substances. However, it was concluded that if greenhouse effects
are included in the overall assessment, hydro power and nuclear
power are the only currently available large scale energy sources
that have relatively low external costs.
- - Positive messages about nuclear power are not getting
through to decision makers and the public, or at least are not
leading to a more supportive climate for nuclear power. It was
therefore recommended that efforts be made to present the results
from comparative assessment studies in a more transparent manner
so they can be used more readily in decision making processes and
communicated to the media and the public. It was suggested that
the DECADES project could provide a useful framework for
achieving greater international consistency in the approaches
used for comparative assessment and for reducing uncertainties in
the key data needed for such studies.
The proceedings of both the Helsinki and the Vienna symposia are
published by the Agency.
1The EC, ESCAP, the World Bank, IIASA, OECD/NEA, OPEC,
UNEP, UNIDO and WMO.