This Saturday night I’ll be seeing the new pro-nuclear movie Pandora’s Promise at Embarcadero Center Cinema in San Francisco. Afterwards, Climate One (part of the Commonwealth Club) will sponsor a conversation about the movie between me and Michael Shellenberger of the Breakthrough Institute (one of the environmentalists turned nuclear advocates who stars in the movie). I’m hoping the movie isn’t a quasi-religious rant about how nuclear is cost competitive with fossil fuels (it isn’t…yet) and can easily eliminate all global greenhouse gas emissions (it can’t….yet). What we need is a balanced conversation that recognizes how incredibly cheap fossil fuels are likely to remain and how difficult (and necessary) it is to get the developed and developing world to switch to alternatives. Nuclear may turn out to be the alternative that can do that, and it should be part of the discussion, but without government intervention none of the alternatives beats fossil fuels (…yet). Andrew Revkin had a piece on his NYT blog about the movie and it got written up in most major papers today. Here are the LA Times and Washington Post reviews.
Severin Borenstein is E.T. Grether Professor of Business Administration and Public Policy at the Haas School of Business and Faculty Director of the Energy Institute at Haas. He has published extensively on the oil and gasoline industries, electricity markets and pricing greenhouse gases. His current research projects include the economics of renewable energy, economic policies for reducing greenhouse gases, and alternative models of retail electricity pricing. In 2012-13, he served on the Emissions Market Assessment Committee that advised the California Air Resources Board on the operation of California’s Cap and Trade market for greenhouse gases. He chaired the California Energy Commission's Petroleum Market Advisory Committee from 2015 until its completion in 2017. Currently, he is a member of the Bay Area Air Quality Management District's Advisory Council.