You grew up in India and your experience informs you of the absolute need for adequate energy for people around the world. Like you, I too grew up in India. I too witnessed the improvements in the quality of life and health when charcoal- or dung-fired clay pots were replaced by gas stoves, or when electrical bulbs replaced kerosene lamps. As one of your predecessors, Dr. Jim-Yong Kim, pointed out in an interview that the enormous progress made during the last 25 years lifted over a billion people out of poverty. He could foresee lifting another billion in the not-too-distant future. Earlier progress was made on the backs of coal and oil. Can we afford to do the same to help the next billion?
I am glad you called for an energy transition from coal-to-gas-to-renewables. Yet, calls for divestment from fossil fuel companies to mitigate climate change only reduces the supply of gas, raising the cost of fuel and most adversely hurting the poor. There is no social justice in that.
The absence of nuclear power in the coal-to-gas-to-renewables transition you discuss is deeply concerning to me. Wind and solar are intermittent energy sources and when you consider the cost of storage at scale, they are not cheap—not in direct dollars, nor in their environmental footprint when accounting for all the mining required for the materials. If we rely only on wind and solar to provide the required clean energy, we will have to increase mining activities manifold and encroach on natural habitats, further exacerbating the risk of pandemics.
Nuclear power can produce vast quantities of carbon-free energy. It has resulted in the fewest fatalities per unit of energy delivered than any other system, including wind and solar. It also has the smallest environmental footprint. It is unfortunate that multinational agencies like the World Bank and the International Finance Corporation have a policy against supporting deployment of nuclear power plants. Their reluctance is based principally on our unfounded fear of radiation, reinforced by decades of fearmongering by environmental activists.
I ask you to reconsider the policy against supporting nuclear power projects. In concert with quickly deployable wind and solar technologies, nuclear power can provide the requisite base power without the need for inefficient gas-fired power plants. Should you have any questions, please contact me.