As a Green Party activist for over twenty years, I have always been anti-nuclear power believing the myths that nuclear power is dangerous, the waste problem was unsolvable, and it would lead to more nuclear weapons. But recently I have been looking at nuclear energy again as it became clear we need a clean source of energy to tackle climate change – and I realised I was wrong.
The myths are myths. Nuclear power is one of the safest – if not the safest – forms of energy production and provides abundant clean energy free of CO2 emissions. The volumes of nuclear waste are small – often reused to provide more energy – and can be safely stored. As for the link with nuclear weapons – neither the physics nor the technologies are the same, nor are the institutions that manage the two technologies.
We need to urgently tackle climate change and we need to stop using fossil fuels as soon as we can -to do so we need to expand nuclear power – along with an expansion of renewables and more energy efficiency. Nuclear can provide a base load that renewables cannot. As developing countries develop, they will need even more energy to raise living standards and nuclear provides that clean energy without emitting greenhouse gases like CO2.
Climate campaigners like George Monbiot, Mark Lynas and James Hansen have all accepted the need for nuclear energy to tackle climate change and there are even campaigning groups – like Emergency Reactor set up by a former Extinction Rebellion activist to campaign for nuclear energy for the environment. The truth is that if we are serious about tackling climate change, we need nuclear energy as part of the solution. And I urge people who are against nuclear energy to look at nuclear power with fresh eyes and consider the question – if we stop using fossil fuels, how are we going to provide for our energy needs? – renewables and efficiency are just not enough. It is time the Green Party backed nuclear energy for the environment and for our future.
Mark Dawes – Waltham Forest and Redbridge Green Party