Authors retract paper linking nuclear power to slow action on climate change

nukes Look! No question mark in my title. This is from a post on retraction watch about "Nuclear energy and path dependence in Europe’s ‘Energy union’: coherence or continued divergence?" by Andrew Lawrence, Benjamin Sovacool, and Andrew Stirling, Climate Policy, 2016; 16 (5): 622 DOI: 10.1080/14693062.2016.1179616.

Given the title and conclusions the pro-nuke folk weren't likely to like it, and it looks like they were right not to like it. Two criticisms (linked from the RW article, another I'll skip because it was too shrill) are by Stephen Tindale and Suzanna Hinson and Nicholas Thompson. Those two crits cover the broad range from, effectively, the broad-scale methodology doesn't make sense to the numbers are wrong. The numbers are wrong in many ways: simply mis-transcribed, calculated in the wrong way, and without reference to how the time period chosen affects the results. They also do questionable things with averaging: does it make sense to average an emission reduction, as a percentage, across Italy and Malta when the latter, in terms of absolute emissions, is tiny? I think you would expect at least some discussion of this point in the original paper, but it is absent. There doesn't seem to be any attempt to evaluate statistical significant of the results either1. On a more broad scale, the first criticism questions whether the groupings of the paper make any sense, which seems like a fair comment.

FWIW my own guess would be that the factors influencing renewables and nukes in a country are sufficiently idiosyncratic that this crude level of analysis would be unlikely to be useful.


1. Don't miss their delightful response which, errm, fully answers the statistical issue. Errm.

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