Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s recent surprise announcement of a deal for nuclear-powered submarines made national and international headlines, and it is encouraging nuclear promoters to come out of the woodwork.
With the upcoming UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow shifting our national energy debate into first gear, this new push for nuclear power in Australia is quickly becoming a serious roadblock to real climate solutions in Australia.
Apart from the clear links to nuclear disasters, multi-generational radioactive waste, nuclear weapons proliferation and unresolved security concerns – existing nuclear reactor technology is slow, expensive and uncompetitive.
It is imperative that the Prime Minister acts now on his assurance that the submarine deal will not lead to nuclear power or implicate us with nuclear weapons.
Australia has long avoided nuclear power. In fact, we have two key pieces of federal legislation from the Howard Government that prohibit it.
There are many reasons for this. From uranium mining to radioactive waste storage, the creation of nuclear power is a top-to-toe headache that unnecessarily risks our communities, our wildlife, and the places we love.
We have climate solutions ready to take off. Clean energy from the sun and wind can power our communities, houses, cars, buses and trains – and be exported to the rest of the world in place of climate-wrecking fossil fuels or risky radiation.
We must avoid dangerous distractions that take us sideways or backwards, instead of forwards. But a handful of out-of-step politicians want Australia to go nuclear.
It’s important that we speak out together to counter their message, and keep pushing for clean, renewable energy solutions to cut climate pollution this decade.
Everywhere nuclear power operates it is propped up by massive public subsidies.
As former ACF president Ian Lowe used to say, everywhere uranium is enriched the taxpayer is impoverished.
And massive, cumbersome nuclear reactors take decades to construct – assuming you find a community willing to host them. These reactors are too slow to be an answer to the pressing problem of climate change.
Even the Minerals Council of Australia acknowledges the sort of nuclear reactors that actually exist and operate elsewhere in the world are simply not appropriate for Australia.
All the chatter is about small modular reactors – and they do not exist in the real world. The technology is simply unproven.
The world is moving to a renewable energy future and Australia is perfectly placed to lead this transition.
The Prime Minister should urgently rein in the nuclear spruikers – including those in his own government – because Australia needs real climate action, not more radioactive rhetoric.
Together we can snuff out this dangerous distraction.