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The Editors

Nuclear Power Is More Important Than Ever

Retiring nuclear plants early was a bad idea. Failing to invest in new ones would be disastrous.

Closed too soon.

Closed too soon.

Photographer: Kena Betancur/Getty Images

After the disasters at Chernobyl in 1986 and Fukushima in 2011, turning away from nuclear power seemed prudent. Now it looks like a serious error — and not just because global energy costs happen to be spiking. Over the next several decades, an orderly, affordable and politically sustainable transition to zero-carbon electricity is likely to require a much bigger nuclear component.

On plausible estimates, nuclear power is roughly as clean and safe as wind or solar — and vastly cleaner and safer than biomass, gas, oil or coal. Like any such technology, it poses challenges, but with a sufficient commitment of effort and resources, these can be overcome. The sooner this is understood, the better the world’s chances of winning the war against climate change.