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Urgency of the IPCC climate report makes it clear that new nuclear is not the answer

The urgency of the IPCC report highlights the need to prioritise renewables and decentralised energy, and move away from new nuclear, says NFLA

Like many organisations, the UK and Ireland Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) reads the new report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change with a sense of alarm, but also new motivation to highlight the urgency to reduce carbon emissions across the board.

The IPCC report published yesterday says there are no scenarios where a 1.5 degrees Celsius increase in temperature in the world will now not be avoided, meaning some of the negative challenges of climate change will take place. This is now largely and almost entirely due to the actions of humanity in neglecting to reduce carbon emissions over previous decades, and not moving away from fossil fuels sooner.

In its analysis of the IPCC report, BBC Environment Correspondent Matt McGrath notes (1):

  • Climate change is widespread, rapid and intensifying due to human actions (and inaction in preventing it).
  • Extreme heat events, like that taking place presently across southern Europe, North America and northern Russia, will become more frequent.
  • The 1.5C global temperature increase limit is now on ‘life support’. Keeping temperatures under this level was a key 2050 target, but the IPCC suggests the world will hit it possibly as early as 2030. The IPCC has previously said there are great advantages of staying under the 1.5C limit compared to a 2C temperature increase. To do that, it argued carbon emissions would need to be cut in half by 2030 and net zero emissions reached by 2050. Otherwise, the limit would be reached between 2030 and 2052.
  • Under all likely scenarios, global sea levels will rise. The IPCC report shows that under current scenarios, the seas could rise above the likely range, going up to 2m by the end of this century and up to 5m by 2150. While these are unlikely figures, they cannot be ruled out under a very high greenhouse gas emissions scenario.
  • There will be an increase in extreme rainfall, creating the types of serious flooding recently seen in the likes of Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands.

The core message of the IPCC report is the huge urgency in getting carbon emissions down as quickly as possible. For example, it notes the need to reduce methane emissions from oil, gas, agriculture and rice cultivation should be a core priority for all governments……………

For NFLA as well, the urgency of this report should now preclude the obsession from the UK Government to deliver new nuclear. It is in this decade when large carbon reduction is required, whilst any new nuclear development will be unlikely to be making any great impression until the 2030s at the very earliest. The billions being suggested to either bail out Hinkley Point C or back Sizewell C, or fund Rolls Royce’s ‘small’ modular nuclear reactor programme, would now be far better directed towards the cheaper, cleaner and more easily realisable renewable and energy efficiency programmes.

The IPCC report tells all of us to get real. NFLA agree. Our reports on best practice in delivering local decentralised energy solutions in carbon reduction show a positive way forward. (2) Our reports showing the heavy costs and technical challenges of new nuclear, as well as of the huge decommissioning and radioactive waste management costs of our existing nuclear legacy, emphasise as well that nuclear is not part of the solution to deliver a net zero response by 2050. (3) It is high time for radical change, and most Councils are ready for it – now it needs central government to respond to this highly alarming IPCC report………..

It is also clear to me and the NFLA that new nuclear is not the answer to this urgent emergency – it takes too long, costs too much and the existing nuclear legacy needs to be dealt with, not creating more radioactive waste that we still do not know what to do with. ,,,,NFLA UK & Ireland Steering Committee Chair Councillor David Blackburn …………

August 12, 2021 - Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change

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