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Climate change is real, so politicians need to get real about nuclear energy

Do Canadian politicians and activists really want to stop climate change?

Ali Taghva Montreal QC

Do Canadian politicians and activists really want to stop climate change?

Many do not seem to really care about the problem, and in reality, simply aim to push forward whatever policies they can pass or earn donations on.

Over the last two decades, the nation has distanced itself from serious nuclear energy generation, all while Liberals pursued emissions reduction, going as far as taking multiple provinces to court in order to impose a carbon tax.

It was not always this way.

Since in 1958, Canada built a total of 25 nuclear-powered reactors over the course of 35 years, with roughly three of them located outside of Ontario.

Quebec has historically stayed away from nuclear due to the immense reserves of cheap hydro electricity it has access too.

The last nuclear reactor to become operational in Canada became operational in 1983.

Today some of Ontario’s plans have since closed, one plant operates in New Brunswick, and all remaining provinces have either closed their plants, never had any, or outright oppose any new nuclear development whatsoever. B.C, for example, has actually gone so far as to ban nuclear in all future projects, with the Crown corporation, BC Hydro, upholding this principle by “rejecting consideration of nuclear power in implementing B.C.’s clean energy strategy.”

Nonetheless, Ontario’s remaining nuclear reactors produced in 2014 approximately 60% of Ontario’s energy needs, equaling roughly 15% of the nations entire energy production.

Here is perhaps the most important aspect behind that energy as well. That large volume of energy was produced with far less environmental damage than any other actually reliable energy source we know of.

According to a study by the World Nuclear Association, on average over the lifetime of an energy plant, the burning of coal results in 979 tons of carbon-dioxide, Gas gives off 550 tons.

And nuclear? Just 32 tons.

From pollution to accidents, the long term deaths caused by Nuclear energy is simply outlandishly lower than every other realistic option.

For example, 4000 Chinese coal miners were killed through floods and accidents in just 2006 alone. In total, there have been less than 300 verifiable deaths caused by nuclear radiation accidents.

The case is even more stark when it comes to pollution and air quality.

You would think with such stark differences, the nation fearing total environmental doom would rapidly move towards reliable nuclear. But no. Instead, most environmentalists including Canada’s anti-nuclear activists, seem to completely oppose nuclear development instead favouring expensive renewable sources such as solar or wind.

Even if those sources of energy simply cannot meet the rapidly changing energy consumption patterns of humans, partially due to the nature of the energy, but largely due to the costs of storing it.

Here is the problem with how that impacts our society: it seems the activists have won when it comes to the court of public opinion.

According to a 2012 poll by Innovative Research Group, 37% of Canadians are in favour of nuclear power, while 53% oppose it. Support ranges from a high of 54% in Ontario to a low of 12% in Quebec.

So what have governments nationwide done in response to this blind activism?

Well they have rolled out one bad or hypocritical plan after another.

The B.C government for example, openly support LNG Canada, a project described as a potential ‘carbon bomb’ that can blow up B.C.’s climate goals.

The Trudeau government has taken a far more costly and fairly bizarre approach.They have decided to ditch all preconceived notions of economics of scale when it comes to nuclear development, and instead have gone with a plan to cover Canada in small nuclear reactors.

According to the Tyee, environmental groups and some politicians have spoken out against this process. “A petition signed by nearly two dozen civil society groups has also opposed the “development and deployment of SMRs when renewable, safer and less financially, socially and environmentally costly alternatives exist.”

So what is the solution? Well climate change does exist, and we do need a plan that isn’t just a tax. To provide some perspective, according to a UN climate report for a carbon tax to reduce global emissions to needed amounts it would have to range from $135 – $5500 per tonne of CO2.

The current Canadian carbon tax in comparison started at $20 per tonne of CO2, and will rise to $50 by 2022. Our carbon tax rate obviously won’t be solving the problem, and the UN’s rate would make us all poor.

In reality, we need to actively prepare our entire economy from the bottom up to match future needs without ensuring serious poverty.

That will take fossil fuels, nuclear energy, and a long term plan to develop cleaner alternatives.

While some may believe fossil fuel demand will end soon, it won’t. The product will continue to be an extremely large and growing part of global energy demand well into 2035 partially due to energy, but mostly due to the plethora of uses oil has in manufacturing.

If we want to be realistic the most sizable realizable shift will come from switching to electric transportation as fast as possible, and not from taxing ourselves into poverty, or gutting the nations oil supply. At this moment 28% of all of Canada’s GHG come from transportation.

If electric vehicles could be made to work better in Canada’s frozen environment (something rapidly occurring), that could serve as a real response. Already Canada serves as one of the largest markets for electric vehicles, maintaining roughly 20% as many electric vehicles as California. The sunshine state notably includes silicon valley and its jet setting tesla riding executives, and a population equal to that of Canada.

Obviously, the charging of these vehicles would have to come from an environmentally sustainable area as well, which brings us back to the serious need of nuclear energy.

To execute something like this, the nation will need every ounce of economic capacity possible. That won’t happen as long as activists insist on making us poorer without considering real solutions to save the planet.

Perhaps most importantly, the nation will need a government that can actually execute on grand infrastructure and energy plans. The development of nuclear energy plants has been notoriously prone to ever-increasing budget runs.

The Bruce A plant in Ontario was projected to cost $0.9 billion (1969), and actually cost $1.8 billion (1978), a 100% over-run, and that is still modest compared to some of the other building projects taken on in Canada.

For example, the Liberals have put forward a $188 billion dollar infrastructure plan, largely for development projects which will not adequately help the Canadian environment or economy.

On top of these costs, it is important to point out that plant development does take time.

With climate change occurring quickly the nation would have to rapidly begin construction, and would logically leave the purchasing of vehicles to Canadian citizens.

Sadly, right now it seems the Canadian government has no real long term plan, and instead plants to throw money at multiple projects that have no guarantee on succeeding.

With so much on the line, Canada must focus on real executable projects and leave everything else to the Canadian people, or else risk failing at everything.

What do you think? Join the conversation by commenting below!

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