It’s not news that the environmental movement has a thing about nuclear power. And not a good thing. Even those in a panic over greenhouse gases are strangely hostile to the one solution that might actually work. And yet politicians who’ve cornered themselves on climate appear willing to climb through the atomic portal for want of alternatives. Thus a leaked EU document actually considers adopting this sensible policy.
It is funny, in the ha ha as well as weird sense, that the document had to be leaked because even EU officials understood that in the current topsy-turvy debate it would be seen as scandalous to propose something we could actually do, technically and financially. And indeed it was scandalous; “‘This proposal is a scientific disgrace that would deal a fatal blow to the taxonomy,’ said Henry Eviston, spokesman on sustainable finance at WWF European Policy Office.”
As is our wont we checked out said Eviston and found that he does have a Master of Science. In fact he has two. So he would know about scientific disgraces because… um… one of those MSCs, from the LSE, is a “Master of Science (MSc), International Affairs” that is “an interdisciplinary graduate degree programme that offers rigorous training in international relations, political economy, international history and diplomatic practice.” But not, what’s that other one, oh yeah, science.
His other MSc is from Peking University, in that branch of science known as “International Affairs” and “offers rigorous training in international relations, political economy, international history and diplomatic practice.” Which sounds oddly familiar but not from the lab. We could go on (for instance he took a BA at “Sciences Po” that was in Economics and Politics so again not a whole lot of “science” in view). And yes, if you’re wondering, Peking University is in Beijing and its alumni include Mao Zedong. But we digress.
The point is the taxonomy. As in what you call a power source. And apparently if you classify power sources that reduce GHG emissions as better than ones that do not from the point of man-made global warming alarmism, you commit some great act not of virtue but of evil. Despite which we do observe that while natural gas is not in nuclear’s league for reducing GHGs, though it is for reliability, it sure beats coal, and there are people who think an important aspect of solving complex problems is to break them into manageable steps.
Such people seem to include European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, somewhat to our surprise. But credit where due, she recently Tweeted “We need more renewables. They are cheaper, carbon-free and homegrown. We also need a stable source, nuclear, and during the transition, gas. This is why we will come forward with our taxonomy proposal.” Which might just sound like stating the obvious but these days it takes a bold person to do so.
In Australia there might be a small outbreak of related boldness. That country has never had a commercial nuclear power station because of the usual atomic breath issue. But Eric Worrall dares hope that the decision to acquire nuclear-powered submarines might represent a certain willingness to challenge the taboo. As it should, since Australian politicians have been thrashing about in a singularly ungainly manner over how to get to zero-emissions coal. Heck, even natural gas would be a step in the right direction, if only they weren’t so dependent for revenue on coal exports to China.
Closer to home, CDN’s home at least, Randall Denley in the National Post last month observed that “For years, Ontario generated so much electrical power that it had to sell it, often at a loss, to neighbouring states and provinces. Now, the province’s ability to produce an adequate supply of reliable power is threatened by an increasing enthusiasm for eliminating natural gas plants that are critical to Ontario’s future.” As he noted, something called the Ontario Clean Air Alliance wants to get rid of natural gas by 2030, which he calls “a predictable stance for an environmental group” although it is not obvious to us what dirt these people think gets into the air when CH4 is burned, aka combined with two molecules of O2 to generate two water molecules (can’t be that) and one CO2 (bingo). CO2 is “pollution” because a politician said so. But we digress.
Denley continues, “the worrying thing is that the alliance’s wobbly plan to replace natural gas has been endorsed by 32 municipalities, representing about 60 per cent of Ontario’s population. Among them are Toronto, Hamilton, Ottawa, Mississauga and Windsor. The federal Liberal, NDP and Green parties all promised zero emissions electricity in last month’s election.” How can it be? Well, he argues, “Zero emissions electricity has to be taken seriously, not because it’s feasible in Ontario in this decade, but because it’s just the sort of simplistic idea that appeals to people who believe the planet will perish without just the right mix of government policies in Canada.” There’s that problem with complexity again. Like the thing where you can’t have power unless you generate it somehow.
To quote Denley once more, “These would be the same people who call for a future in which electricity powers all cars and home heating, but they want only their sort of electricity. That doesn’t include natural gas or emissions-free nuclear, which combined provide 62 per cent of Ontario’s generation capacity.”
Oh my. It is certainly odd that with some of Ontario’s nuclear capacity aging out or requiring refurbishing, meaning the province either leans more on natural gas, takes a dumb gamble on wind, or stumbles like the British government into having to lunge for coal, and even Britain reconsidering nuclear, 70 of Canada’s hundreds of lavishly funded environmental groups should have written to Justin Trudeau to demand that he not put any money into researching new and better nuclear reactors, calling them “dirty, dangerous distractions” from, who knows, debating what the words “clean” and “dirty” actually mean.
Which might be a waste of time with certain sorts of activists. But maybe city councillors should get into the question as winter approaches.