I first joined the Green Party during the Iraq war. I wanted to be in a party which promoted peace and took the coming climate catastrophe seriously. Once in, I liked the fact that the party paid tribalism so little respect. Its attitude was that if an idea was worthy of hearing, it got heard, regardless of who suggested it or what their position was. In every discussion and every debate, I heard the same mantra over and again: ‘evidence-based policy.’
If you’d have asked my views on anything nuclear when I first joined, I’d have said I didn’t trust any of it because it was all about bomb-making and, besides, why make further problems for ourselves with unmanageable waste?
Over time I realised that us Greens have our blind-spots, just the same as any other political tribe. Axiomatic, for us, has been opposition to all things nuclear. This has been one of our founding principles. This opposition was born out of the Cold War and what felt like the very real threat of an all-out nuclear war. Back then, nuclear energy seemed like a risk not worth taking.
Then I realised that there are other designs for nuclear power stations, which cannot blow up like Chernobyl. They use the laws of nature to make them passively safe, so that in the event of an electrical supply failure or any physical interruption, they naturally power down to a standstill. I also learnt that not all nuclear tech is compatible with bomb production. Curious to learn, I read about the subject.
I learnt that the so-called waste is actually mainly unused fuel left over from inefficient early generation reactors. I learnt that the fuel is cheap and abundant. Most importantly, I learnt that this is a reliable always-on energy source which produces zero greenhouse gases. That’s exactly what us greens say we most want.
We’ll need more than nuclear tech to sort our shit out now. We’ll need tech that cleans carbon out of the air and the seas. Clearly, we’ll need to change our attitudes towards scientific developments and rapidly too. Above all, we need to look at the evidence, not just claim we do.
Any notions of dramatically reducing the demand for energy are facile. They cannot form part of any serious discussion on the subject. Anyone in the UK who promotes that idea is barking up a non-existent tree.
Renewables cannot supply the base load because they are all, in this country, unpredictable and intermittent. They don’t work when the wind won’t blow and the sun don’t shine. Therefore, something else is needed. Something reliable. We need a reliable carbon-free base supply, to keep the electricity going. The only option is nuclear. Whether we like it or not. Because that’s what the evidence tells us.
That’s why I support Greens For Nuclear Energy.
Duncan Roy, Green Party member, Lewes.