The Climate Challenge
Climate change poses a serious risk to long term prosperity and well-being of humanity and the life with which we share this planet.
The scientific consensus is that human activity is driving the rapid change in our climate, primarily via the release of CO2 emissions, by burning fossil fuels, and deforestation.
Since the start of this century, despite global efforts, annual CO2 emissions have continued to increase.
The Role of Energy
Energy is essential to human prosperity and the story of this century has been the increasing number of people lifted out of poverty by gaining access to higher grades of energy.
This increase in energy access is a major factor why, despite investment in clean energy, the share of fossil fuels consumed globally has remained stagnant at over 80%.
The challenge is to continue to increase access to energy to lift people out of poverty, while phasing out fossil fuels.
The scale of this challenge is truly staggering and it will require that we use all the numerous solutions available to us. One of those solutions is nuclear energy.
We must Rethink Nuclear!
Australia is a wealthy, advanced nation who has benefited immensely from fossil fuels. We have a responsibility to ourselves and the world to be leaders in the clean energy transition.
While Australia is investing in solutions such as wind and solar, there is one solution that is actively prohibited. That solution is nuclear energy.
We argue that the current prohibition on nuclear energy and related nuclear fuel cycle infrastructure is not in the Australian public's best interest. It is an unnecessary barrier to the deployment of a proven source of clean, safe and reliable energy technology.
In the context of the worsening global climate emergency, such a barrier is morally and politically unjustifiable.
The EU parliament in 2022 voted to include nuclear in its sustainability finance taxonomy following advice from the European Commission's official science advisory, the Joint Research Centre, which found that nuclear energy met the EU requirement to ‘do no significant harm’.
“The analyses did not reveal any science-based evidence that nuclear energy does more harm to human health or to the environment than other electricity production technologies already included in the Taxonomy as activities supporting climate change mitigation."
- Joint Research Centre
A report produced for the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) found that nuclear energy has the lowest lifecycle environmental impact. Note that this is for the full lifecycle and fuel cycle, not merely plant construction and operation.
What a waste!
Let's not waste nuclear waste!
Currently used nuclear fuel is safely stored and managed. But it still contains enormous amounts of energy.
It can be recycled, in advanced reactors known as a fast breeder reactors, and used to provide a future of abundant clean energy
In 2022, RePlaneteer Dr Jo Lackenby gave an excellent TED Talk about why we shouldn't waste the potential of 'nuclear waste' to provide our clean energy future.