The pressing need to transition from fossil fuel energy to a low carbon future has seen renewed calls for domestic nuclear power in Australia.

ACF has recently reviewed scientific literature and industry practice from Australia and around to world to see if any developments in nuclear technology might have changed the role of this deeply contested power source.

Our findings are captured in a new report, which provides a clear pathway to a low carbon energy system.

ACF is committed to effective climate action but maintains that ‘next generation’ nuclear is not a credible energy response and the pursuit of nuclear power in Australia makes no sense.

It would slow the transition to a low-carbon economy, increase electricity costs and unnecessarily introduce challenges and risks associated with high-level nuclear waste management including the potential for catastrophic accidents, with profound inter-generational economic implications for Australian taxpayers.

It is important to note that proponents of nuclear power in Australia are not calling for the deployment of existing nuclear reactor technology. Instead, they are promoting ‘next generation’ nuclear technology which currently does not exist to scale.

The reactors that exist today are increasingly seen as a high-cost and high-risk way to make electricity. They are also directly linked to high level radioactive waste and nuclear security, weapons and terrorism concerns.

The domestic nuclear promoters are staking their hopes – and Australia’s energy future – on technology which is uncertain and unproven.

The good news about the renewed nuclear discussion is that it highlights that business as usual with fossil fuels is not an option. The bad news is the very real risk of delay, distraction and a failure to advance a just energy transition.

We cannot afford to lose more time on the false promise of unproven and non-commercial technology.

This is the crucial decade when real climate action is urgently needed to make the required transition to a low carbon future and, unlike prototype nuclear, renewable energy exists in the real world.

Wishful thinking is no substitute for real world evidence and action or for effective climate action.

Australia’s energy future is renewable, not radioactive.

Dave Sweeney

Nuclear free campaigner, Australian Conservation Foundation.