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Cop26 climate talks will not fulfil aims of Paris agreement, key players warn, but still offer hope

Some people would be disappointed by the admission that the high hopes for an outcome that would fulfil the Paris aspiration would not be met, said Mary Robinson, chair of the Elders Group, former UN climate envoy and former president of Ireland. “The NDCs will be disappointing, given the urgency and given the climate impacts. It is disappointing that leaders have not been able to step up enough. But the momentum will be there, and that’s very important. I am determined to be hopeful.”

Cop26 climate talks will not fulfil aims of Paris agreement, key players warn.   Major figures privately admit summit will fail to result in pledges that could limit global heating to 1.5C, Fiona Harvey Environment correspondent Mon 27 Sep 2021  Vital United Nations climate talks, billed as one of the last chances to stave off climate breakdown, will not produce the breakthrough needed to fulfil the aspiration of the Paris agreement, key players in the talks have conceded.

The UN, the UK hosts and other major figures involved in the talks have privately admitted that the original aim of the Cop26 summit will be missed, as the pledges on greenhouse gas emissions cuts from major economies will fall short of the halving of global emissions this decade needed to limit global heating to 1.5C.

Senior observers of the two-week summit due to take place in Glasgow this November with 30,000 attenders, said campaigners and some countries would be disappointed that the hoped-for outcome will fall short.

However, the UN, UK and US insisted that the broader goal of the conference – that of “keeping 1.5C alive” – was still in sight, and that world leaders meeting in Glasgow could still set a pathway for the future that would avoid the worst ravages of climate chaos.

That pathway, in the form of a “Glasgow pact”, would allow for future updates to emissions pledges in the next few years that could be sufficient for the world to stay within scientific advice on carbon levels.

A senior UN official said: “We are not going to get to a 45% reduction, but there must be some level of contributions on the table to show the downward trend of emissions.”

A UK official said: “Cop26 will not deliver all that we want [on emissions].” But the UK, charged as host with delivering a successful outcome, is hoping that progress will be made on other issues, including phasing out coal, providing climate finance to poor countries, and improving the protection of forests.

A US official told the Guardian countries must still aim as high as possible on emissions cuts: “We are going to try to achieve [the emissions cuts necessary]. No one in the administration wants to admit defeat before we have made the maximum effort. You should set an ambitious agenda and may have to, in the end, take baby steps but you should plan for long strides. We are taking long strides.”

Lord Nicholas Stern, the climate economist, said falling short on emissions plans should not be equated with failure. “I agree with [the UN] and most observers that we will not close that gap [between emissions pledges and scientific advice] completely,” he said. “But we should hope for good progress in closing that gap and we should hope for mechanisms and ways forward on how we close that gap further between now and 2025. That’s the way we should think about what is a good, or better, or worse result – a language of success or failure doesn’t seem to me to be very helpful.”

At the Paris climate summit in December 2015, 196 nations agreed to hold global temperature rises to “well below 2C” with an aspiration to limit rises to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels. But the pledges on emissions – known as nationally determined contributions, or NDCs – they brought to the French capital were not enough to fulfil either goal, and would have led to catastrophic heating of at least 3C.

For that reason, the French hosts wrote into the agreement a “ratchet mechanism” that would require countries to return to the negotiating table every five years with fresh targets to meet the temperature goals. Cop26, which was postponed by a year because of Covid, is the fifth Cop – conference of the parties – since Paris.

Some people would be disappointed by the admission that the high hopes for an outcome that would fulfil the Paris aspiration would not be met, said Mary Robinson, chair of the Elders Group, former UN climate envoy and former president of Ireland. “The NDCs will be disappointing, given the urgency and given the climate impacts. It is disappointing that leaders have not been able to step up enough. But the momentum will be there, and that’s very important. I am determined to be hopeful.”

She said the original conception of the Paris agreement, of returning every five years, should be revised so that countries would be asked to return every year with their plans.

The UN takes a similar view. “The Paris agreement built this five-year cycle of ambition, but there is nothing preventing a country from reviewing and updating its NDC next year,” said the senior UN official.

“Cop26 is a very important milestone but it should not be seen as the end of the game, where we give up on 1.5C,” he added. “[It] will signal that 1.5C remains in reach [through] a combination of NDCs, negotiated outcomes and signals in the real economy.”

While the UK, the US and the EU have submitted NDCs requiring much stiffer cuts than those proposed at Paris, the world’s biggest emitter – China – has yet to submit an NDC, and has only indicated that it will cause emissions to peak by 2030, which experts said was not enough to hold the world to 1.5C.

Alok Sharma, the UK cabinet minister who is Cop26 president-designate, said: “Cop26 has always been about delivering urgent action to ensure we keep the path to a 1.5C world alive. Those nations which have submitted new and ambitious climate plans are already bending the curve of emissions downwards by 2030. But we continue to push for increased ambition from the G20 to urgently close the emissions gap. The clock is ticking, and Cop26 must be the turning point where we change the course of history for the better.”

China has still not said whether president Xi Jinping will attend Cop26, causing consternation among climate diplomats who fear China will make no major move at the summit. Relations with China and the US and the UK have been strained by the announcement of the Aukus defence pact with Australia, and by trade differences.

Other countries have also failed to come up with improved NDCs, including Australia, Brazil, Mexico, Indonesia, Russia and Saudi Arabia. India is also the subject of intense diplomacy, as the world’s fourth-biggest emitter after the EU.

Campaigners said the focus should be on the biggest emitters. Mitzi Jonelle Tan, an activist for Fridays for Future in the Philippines, who joined the youth climate strike last Friday, said: “We have seen how big polluters, like the US and China, have promised and pledged less than what is needed from them in the past, yet have fallen short on those every time. Unlike the so-called leaders who like to cheer themselves on for subpar speeches [at the UN], the youth aren’t impressed.”


September 28, 2021 Posted by | climate change | 3 Comments

No quick fix. Reducing demand is the key to energy supply.

Let’s hope that in the final weeks before vital international climate talks in Glasgow our political leaders show that, although there can be no quick fixes to this crisis, they’ve finally understood the way through.

Only by reducing demand will gas supply no longer be an issue    For the electricity the UK will certainly need, we need to rapidly  ramp up the rollout of renewable energy projects

Doug Parr , 27 Sep 21  As the effect of the gas price shock starts to seep into the lives of ordinary people over the coming weeks and months – causing bills to rise, energy suppliers to go bust and supermarket shelves to empty – many will be left wondering how the government could have allowed this to happen.

While it is true that a global surge in demand, coupled with geopolitical games and electricity supply issues in the UK have resulted in a squeeze   on supply and subsequent price hike, this is only half the story.

What ministers are failing to talk about as they reassure us that they do “not expect” supplies to run out this winter, is that it is not supply but the UK’s dependency on gas, and the failure of successive governments to wean us off the stuff years ago, that has left the UK dangerously exposed.

The UK is one of the most gas-dependent countries in Europe – more than four-fifths of homes are still heated by it and almost half of our electricity is produced by burning it. Failed government policy over decades must shoulder much of the blame. The UK has the least energy-efficient housing stock in western Europe. Yet, we still don’t have a programme in place to insulate the millions of homes across the country that desperately need retrofitting.

There’s a pattern to these mistakes. Earlier this year the government botched its Green Homes Grant programme, scrapping it after just six months. Before that George Osborne binned the Zero Carbon Homes initiative after years of development. Before that, David Cameron reportedly told ministers to “get rid of the green crap”.

Insulating the UK housing stock is essential – it would reduce our dependence on gas, our exposure to such price shocks, slash emissions, reduce fuel poverty and, as Greenpeace UK’s recent report pointed out, create up to 138,000 new jobs and inject almost £10bn into the economy.

The latter economic benefit would also require a mass rollout of heat pumps, which would further reduce our dependence on gas. But once again, poor policy decisions have gotten in the way. The UK is last when it comes to the sale per household of these sources of clean heating, behind Poland, Slovakia, Estonia and almost everyone else in Europe.

Those calling for an increase in domestic supply by expanding production in the North Sea or having another go at fracking are completely wrong. This is a price shock, not an availability shock so more domestic gas production can’t and won’t affect global or regional prices – and will have zero impact on the present crisis. Seeking more supply repeats the mistakes of the past.

It also won’t reduce the UK’s carbon emissions, which is fundamental to tackling the climate crisis and something the government is legally bound to do. Reducing demand is the only option to solve the problems of the UK’s gas exposure and the climate crisis simultaneously.

For the electricity the UK will certainly consume, we need to urgently push the rollout of renewable energy projects and the job opportunities that should come with them. The government loves to boast about its record on offshore wind, but it has stalled repeatedly when it comes to onshore wind and solar. The sooner we have a renewables sector that can cater to our energy needs the faster we relieve ourselves of the risks of gas dependence.

Investment in renewables must come with investment in a smarter, more flexible grid and better storage so that even when the wind isn’t blowing or the sun shining, energy supplies and prices don’t become a problem.

New nuclear power cannot realistically help. Continual cost escalation and ever-increasing delivery timeframes have proven that it is not a viable alternative to fossil fuels. According to EDF the next UK plant that could be approved wouldn’t be up and running until 2034 and that’s assuming none of the usual long delays. We can’t wait 13 years or more for a magic nuclear bullet, even if the issues such as waste can be solved.

Aside from taking the shackles off the construction of new renewables power, the upcoming Spending Review is the government’s chance to start righting past wrongs on energy efficiency. Rishi Sunak must commit to an extra £12bn of public investment for the rest of this parliament to improve energy efficiency, green our homes. We also need to properly fund a just transition for fossil fuel workers.

Boris Johnson has spoken at the UN this week of his “frustration” with world leaders at not taking climate change seriously enough. So he must be livid with his government departments, especially the Treasury, for the missteps over the last few years which have over-exposed the electorate and economy to expensive, climate-wrecking fossil gas.

Let’s hope that in the final weeks before vital international climate talks in Glasgow our political leaders show that, although there can be no quick fixes to this crisis, they’ve finally understood the way through.

Dr Doug Parr is Greenpeace UK’s chief scientist

September 28, 2021 Posted by | ENERGY, UK | 1 Comment

Plutonium: How Nuclear Power’s Dream Fuel Became a Nightmare. 

The history of nuclear power’s imagined future: Plutonium’s journey from asset to waste, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, By William Walker, September 7, 2021 

Bill Gates is deluded in believing that the plutonium-fuelled, sodium-cooled, “Versatile Power Reactor” in which his company Terrapower is involved, has a commercial future.[18] His support is also unwelcome insofar as it helps to perpetuate the myth that plutonium is a valuable fuel, posing acceptable risks to public safety and international security. Reprocessing is a waste-producing, not an asset-creating, technology. It adds cost rather than value. It merits no future when seen in this way.

‘ ………..Plutonium’s history  and its legacies are the subject of a recent book by Frank von Hippel, Masafumi Takubo and Jungmin Kang.[1] Plutonium: How Nuclear Power’s Dream Fuel Became a Nightmare. It is an impressive study of technological struggle and ultimate failure, and of plutonium’s journey from regard as a vital energy asset to an eternally troublesome waste

Toward heaven or hell?  The conflict over plutonium’s future…………..

From creation of a future to preservation of the present

Construction of the British and French reprocessing plants at Sellafield and Cap de la Hague proceeded throughout the 1980s.[6] Their primary justification—preparing for the introduction of fast breeder reactors—had lost all credibility by the time of their completion. The German, British and French breeder programs had been cut back, soon to be abandoned, and in 1988 Germany cancelled plans to build its own bulk reprocessing plant at Wackersorf. Although Japan’s confidence in its fast breeder reactor program also waned, it was kept alive to avoid disrupting construction of the reprocessing plant at Rokkasho-mura.

Faced by the plutonium economy’s demise, reprocessing was re-purposed by its supporters to provide the industry and its governmental backers with reason not to do the obvious—abandon ship. Creating an essential future was replaced by a rationale designed to preserve and activate the newly established reprocessing infrastructures. ……. plutonium’s energy value could be realised through its replacement of fissile uranium in “mixed-oxide fuels” for use in existing thermal reactors………

Thirty years after the Euro-Japanese reprocessing/recycling system’s launch, the experiment can only be judged a failure. The reasons are set out in persuasive detail in von Hippel, Takubo and Kang’s book. It is a system undergoing irreversible contraction after a long struggle, involving heavy expenditure and many troubles. Germany and the UK have already exited, the UK shutting its THORP reprocessing plant in 2018 and delaying its Magnox reprocessing plant’s closure only because of the coronavirus pandemic.[9] Instead, its Nuclear Decommissioning Authority has been given the costly (more than $138 billion) and long-lasting (more than 100 years) task of returning Sellafield and Dounreay to “green-field sites.”

Japan’s engagement with reprocessing and plutonium recycling was already deeply troubled before the Fukushima accident closed reactors: The Rokkasho-mura reprocessing plant was operating only fitfully, MOX recycling was not happening, and plutonium separated from Japanese spent fuels in France and the UK was marooned there, probably indefinitely, by inability to manage its return in MOX fuel (cutting a very long story short).[10] The declared intention to soldier on with bulk reprocessing seems increasingly bizarre and is surely unsustainable. ……….

France’s national utility EDF, saddled with enormous debts, is striving to reduce its exposure to reprocessing.  It is symptomatic that no spent fuel discharged from EDF-owned and -operated reactors in the UK, including those under construction at Hinkley Point, will be reprocessed………

The move away from reprocessing is being accompanied by a transition towards dry-cask storage of spent fuels. It entails their removal from water pools at reactors after a few years’ cooling and their insertion in large concrete or stainless steel containers, ………

 Reprocessing continues in India and Russia, if fitfully, where fast reactor programmes are still being funded. Japan’s commitment remains. ………

There is particular concern about China’s engagement with reprocessing and its dual civil and military purposes…………

……………. Separated plutonium is a waste

The authors remind readers of the persistent dangers that reprocessing poses to public safety and international security: the risks of accident and exposure to radiation, the proliferation of weapons, the possibility of diversion into nuclear terrorism, and the undesirable complication of radioactive waste disposal. “In our view, it is time to ban the separation of plutonium for any purpose” (their italics) is their concluding sentence. This may be the case, but the US and other governments are unlikely to respond to their call. They have so much else to contend with—climate change, pandemics, economic distress, arms racing on a long list—leaving a ban on plutonium separation low in their priorities. They are also all too aware of past failures to institute such bans,  whether in commercial or military domains, from the Carter Policy in the 1970s to the stalled Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty in the 1990s and subsequently.

Another conclusion cries out to be drawn from this book. Plutonium’s separation and usage for energy purposes was an experiment that can now decisively be pronounced a failure.  Experience has shown that separated civil plutonium is a waste. The book’s first of many figures, reproduced below,  is the most telling. Up to the mid-1980s, the global stock of separated plutonium was predominately military and held in warheads, peaking at around 200 tons. It now exceeds 500 tons. The increase is due to the ballooning of civil stocks as plutonium’s separation has outstripped consumption. The global stock of separated plutonium now includes material extracted from the post-Cold War dismantlement of Russian and US nuclear warheads that is also effectively a waste.[16]

Civil plutonium is therefore not an asset, it is not “surplus to requirement;” it is a waste.  This is the message that needs to be proclaimed and acknowledged, especially by governments, utilities, and industries desiring that nuclear power have a solid future and make a contribution to the avoidance of global warming. For reasons set out in von Hippel’s recent article in the Bulletin, Bill Gates is deluded in believing that the plutonium-fuelled, sodium-cooled, “Versatile Power Reactor” in which his company Terrapower is involved, has a commercial future.[18] His support is also unwelcome insofar as it helps to perpetuate the myth that plutonium is a valuable fuel, posing acceptable risks to public safety and international security. Reprocessing is a waste-producing, not an asset-creating, technology. It adds cost rather than value. It merits no future when seen in this way.

Even if all civil reprocessing ceased tomorrow, the experiment would have bequeathed the onerous task of guarding and disposing of over 300 tons of plutonium waste, and considerably more when US and Russia’s military excess is added in. Proposals come and go.  Burn it in specially designed reactors? Blend it with other radioactive wastes? Bury it underground after some form of immobilization? Send it into space? All options are costly and hard to implement. Lacking ready solutions, most plutonium waste will probably remain in store above ground for decades to come, risking neglect. How to render this dangerous waste eternally safe and secure is now the question.     Extensive References .

September 28, 2021 Posted by | - plutonium, 2 WORLD, Reference | Leave a comment

AUKUS and confronting China throws fuel on the fire of Indo-Pacific tensions. An accelerating arms race will follow.

Australia commits fully to China containment

Canberra is now a fully paid-up member of a China containment front, whether it wants to admit it, or not. In the process, it has yielded sovereignty to the US by committing itself to an interlocking web of military procurement decisions that includes the acquisition of a nuclear-propelled submarine fleet.

New drives to counter China come with a major risk: throwing fuel on the Indo-Pacific arms race  SMH, Tony Walker Tony Walker is a Friend of The Conversation.Vice-chancellor’s fellow, La Trobe University September 27, 2021 An accelerating arms race in the Indo-Pacific is all but guaranteed now that China finds itself a target of new security arrangements — AUKUS and the Quad — aimed at containing its power and influence.

This has the makings of a new great game in the region in which rival powers are no longer in the business of pretending things can continue as they are.

The AUKUS agreement, involving Australia, the US and UK to counter China’s rise means a military power balance in the Indo-Pacific will come more sharply into focus.

The region has been re-arming at rates faster than other parts of the world due largely to China’s push to modernise its defence capabilities.

In their latest surveys, the London-based International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS) and the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) report no let-up in military spending in the Indo-Pacific. This is despite the pandemic.

SIPRI notes a 47% increase in defence spending in the Indo-Pacific in the past decade, led by China and India.

China can be expected to respond to threats posed by the new security arrangements by further expediting its military program.

It will see the formation of AUKUS as yet another attempt to contain its ambitions — and therefore a challenge to its military capabilities.

The Quad makes clear its ambitions

Unambiguously, AUKUS implies a containment policy.

Likewise, the further elevation of the Quad security grouping into a China containment front will play into an atmosphere of heightened security anxiety in the Indo-Pacific.

The four Quad participants – the US, Japan, India and Australia – have their own reasons and agendas for wanting to push back against China.

After their summit last week in Washington, the Quad leaders used words in their joint statement that might be regarded as unexceptional in isolation.

Together with other developments such as AUKUS, however, the language was pointed, to say the least:

Together, we re-commit to promoting the free, open, rules-based order, rooted in international law and undaunted by coercion, to bolster security in the Indo-Pacific and beyond.

The “beyond” part of the statement was not expanded on, but might be read as a commitment to extend the Quad collaboration globally.

All this has come together at the dawn of a new US administration whose members include several conspicuous China hawks, and at a moment when China has shown itself to be ever-willing to throw its weight around.

Beijing’s crude campaign against Australian exports in an effort to bend Australia’s policy to its will is a prime example. It is doubtful an AUKUS or an invigorated Quad would have emerged without this development.

The Obama administration talked about pivoting to the Asia-Pacific without putting much meat on the bones.

Under President Joe Biden, this shift will be driven by a hardening in American thinking that now recognises time is running out, and may already have expired, in the US ability to constrain China’s rise.

These are profound geopolitical moments whose trajectory is impossible to predict.

Australia commits fully to China containment

Canberra is now a fully paid-up member of a China containment front, whether it wants to admit it, or not. In the process, it has yielded sovereignty to the US by committing itself to an interlocking web of military procurement decisions that includes the acquisition of a nuclear-propelled submarine fleet.

Whether these submarines are supplied by the US or Britain is a bit immaterial since the technology involved originates in America.

The submarines will not be available for the better part of two decades under the most optimistic forecasts. However, in the meantime, Australia could base US or British submarines in its ports or lease American submarines.

Meanwhile, Australia is committing itself to a range of US-supplied hardware aimed at enhancing the inter-operability of its military with the US.

This is the reality of fateful decisions taken by the Morrison government in recent months. Such a commitment involves a certain level of confidence in America remaining a predictable and steadfast superpower, and not one riven by internal disputes.

Australian defence spending likely to rise. What is absolutely certain in all of this is that an Indo-Pacific security environment will now become more, not less, contentious. …………………………………

What other Indo-Pacific nations are doing

Many other Indo-Pacific states can now be expected to review their military acquisition programs with the likelihood of a more combative security environment.

Taiwan, for example, is proposing to spend $US8.69 billion (A$11.9 billion) over the next five years on long-range missiles, and increase its inventory of cruise missiles. It is also adding to its arsenal of heavy artillery.

South Korea is actively adding to its missile capabilities. This includes the testing of a submarine-launched ballistic missile.

Seoul has also hinted it might be considering building its own nuclear-propelled submarines (this was among President Moon Jae-in’s election pledges in 2017). Signs that North Korea may have developed a submarine capable of firing ballistic missiles will be concentrating minds in Seoul.

All this indicates how quickly the strategic environment in the Indo-Pacific is shifting.

Australia — perhaps more so than others — is the prime example of a regional player that has put aside a conventional view of a region in flux. It now sees an environment so threatening that a policy of strategic ambiguity between its custodial partner (the US) and most important trade relationship (China) has been abandoned.  
The price tag for this in terms of equipment and likely continuing economic fallout for Australian exporters will not come cheap.

September 28, 2021 Posted by | ASIA, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Why America is ecstatic about Morrison’s AUKUS pact

Why Washington was so ecstatic about Morrison’s AUKUS pact,  SMH, 28 Sept 21,

Political and international editor  ”………….. For many years, a critical element of American war planning has been to defeat China’s navy by bottling it up in the shallow waters of the South China Sea.

It would do this by blocking choke-points that allow passage in and out. And submarines are the most effective tool for achieving this.

If much of China’s navy is contained in those coastal waters, it’s relatively easy for the US to find and destroy. China’s submarines are at their most vulnerable in the shallow littorals nearest their homeland. It’s easier to shoot fish in a barrel than in a pond.

“US forces and their allies will stand a far greater chance of finding Chinese submarines, hemmed into the South China Sea, than China will of finding America’s in the vast Pacific,” as Rory Medcalf of the ANU’s National Security College puts it.

This helps explain why Beijing has put such effort into asserting control of the South China Sea and, just to its north, the East China Sea.    In the event of a crisis, China’s priority is to scramble its submarines well beyond the first island chain into the deep waters of the Pacific where they can operate freely, concealed and lethal.

……………In the event of all-out war, the US wants Tokyo’s 22 subs and Canberra’s six to complement the US fleet of 68. Japan’s have been pencilled in to operate in the north and Australia’s in the south.

This is where AUKUS come in. It includes in-principle agreement from Washington and London to supply Australia with nuclear propulsion technology for a new fleet of eight submarines instead of the planned 12 diesel-electric subs, now ditched.

Why was this greeted rapturously in Washington? “The long-term prospect of eight nuclear-powered RAN subs prowling the Pacific resets the naval balance of power,” says Mike Green of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

…….. Australian officials say it will take almost 20 years to actually get the first Australian-built, nuclear propelled sub into the water. ……. The Australian Strategic Policy Institute’s subs expert, Marcus Hellyer says that the only plausible way that Australia could put a nuclear-powered sub in the water in time to be relevant to the looming US-China contest would be if America handed over some of its ageing Los Angeles class subs. The Pentagon is currently pensioning them off. They’d need to be refurbished. But that’d still be a lot faster, taking years rather than the decades of waiting for the first Australian-made one…..

And AUKUS is about much more than subs. “It’s about areas like cyber and emerging technologies…….

September 28, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, China, politics international, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

AUKUS deal leaves France out of South East Asian security arrangement.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Wednesday said the three nations had agreed to “a new enhanced trilateral security partnership”.

The subtext of France and Australia’s submarine deal,
Aljazeera, 27 Sep 21,

What do a new security pact and a cancelled military contract say about France’s place in the world?    It was supposed to be an announcement of a pact, not the start of a foreign relations crisis between allies. But as Australia announced a new security partnership with the United Kingdom and the United States, dubbed AUKUS, it also cancelled a multibillion-dollar contract to buy submarines from France. So how did an abandoned deal for a dozen submarines turn in to the diplomatic version of a lover’s quarrel?Australia’s decision to cancel a multibillion-dollar order for French submarines in favour of American and British technology has sparked a diplomatic row of unprecedented proportions between longtime Western allies.

The French foreign ministry recalled its ambassadors to the United States and Australia citing “duplicity, disdain and lies”.
China’s Xi warns of ‘interference’ as Australia brushes off angerHundreds arrested in Australian anti-lockdown protestsFrance accuses Australia, US of ‘lying’ over submarine deal

Alongside the economic damage for tens of billions of euros, France said it resents the way Australia and its partners have handled the matter. French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, said, “There has been contempt so it’s not going well between us, not at all.”

President Emmanuel Macron will have a call with his US counterpart, Joe Biden, in the next few days, the French government said on Sunday.

Australia’s strategic alignment

Australia announced on Wednesday it would ditch a contract worth more than 50 billion euros ($59bn) to acquire 12 French-made diesel-electric submarines.

Instead, it will commission at least eight US nuclear-powered submarines in the framework of a new alliance – known by its acronym AUKUS – which will see Australia, the US, and the United Kingdom share advanced technologies with one another.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Wednesday said the three nations had agreed to “a new enhanced trilateral security partnership”.

September 28, 2021 Posted by | ASIA, France, politics international | Leave a comment

AUKUS Sub Deal Could Sink USA’s Relations With France,

AUKUS Sub Deal Could Sink Relations With France, Buoy Nuclear Tech Advances, Forbes,  
 27 Sep 21,  ”…………… …….. Biden’s recent work to transform Australia into an Indo-Pacific bulwark against China, however, has worryingly offended a critical ally — France — and exposed some serious bungling in the U.S. Government.  The newly announced agreement with the UK and Australia has been labeled Aukus, and it entails the making of a of nuclear-powered submarine fleet in Adelaide to replace Australia’s existing force……….

On the surface, the submarines seems logical. If equipped with nuclear armed submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) they represent potentially maximum firepower with minimum expenditure……

The French government,  informed of this [cancellation of their submarine sales contract] only hours before the public, reacted by recalling its ambassadors and accusing the U.S. and Australia of lying to them. After running on the normalization and renewal of ties of Europe, Biden cannot afford to grievously offend American allies or to take their support for granted, let alone France, America’s oldest European ally. ……
In his upcoming call with President Emmanuel Macron, President Biden might try to minimize the harm done to ensure fruitful cooperation in both Europe and Asia moving forward……..

September 28, 2021 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

CIA Reportedly Considered Kidnapping, Assassinating Julian Assange

CIA Reportedly Considered Kidnapping, Assassinating Julian Assange

Mike Pompeo was apparently motivated to get even with Wikileaks following its publication of sensitive CIA hacking tools

ByWILLIAM VAILLANCOUR  The CIA reportedly plotted to kidnap Julian Assange, and some senior officials in the agency and the Trump administration allegedly went so far as to consider options for how to assassinate the WikiLeaks founder, Yahoo! Newsreported Sunday.

According to the report, then-director Mike Pompeo was apparently motivated to get even with Wikileaks following its publication of sensitive CIA hacking tools, which the agency found to be “the largest data loss in CIA history.”

Pompeo and others “were completely detached from reality because they were so embarrassed about Vault 7,” according to a former Trump national security official, referring to the document dump. “They were seeing blood.”

Additional CIA plans allegedly included “extensive spying on WikiLeaks associates, sowing discord among the group’s members, and stealing their electronic devices.”

The report, based on conversations with more than 30 former officials, notes that the CIA’s plans for Assange reportedly led to strenuous debates regarding their legality. Some administration officials were so concerned that they felt the need to tell members of Congress about Pompeo’s suggestions.

Assange is currently imprisoned in London as courts weigh a U.S. request to extradite him.

September 28, 2021 Posted by | civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

Nuclear submarine for Japan? Kono says yes, Kishida says no

Poll leader believes capability is ‘extremely important’ for country

Navy divers assigned to Naval Special Warfare Command conduct operations with the nuclear-powered fast-attack submarine USS North Carolina off the coast of Oahu, Hawaii.

September 26, 2021

TOKYO — Following a recent deal by the U.S. and the U.K. to offer Australia classified technology to build nuclear-powered submarines, should fellow Quad member Japan also seek such a capability? The four candidates running for the Liberal Democratic Party presidential race to succeed Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga were asked the question Sunday on Fuji TV.

Poll leader Taro Kono, minister for administrative reform and also in charge of vaccine distribution, gave a thumbs-up. “As a capability, it is very important for Japan to have nuclear submarines,” he said.

“Whether there are regions [in Japan] willing to host them as a home port, or whether the operating capabilities or costs are pragmatic, these are issues we need to consider going forward,” he added. 

Sanae Takaichi, the former internal affairs minister, also looked favorably upon the idea. “If we think of the worst-case risks in the international environment ahead, I do believe we could have [submarines] that can travel a little longer,” she said, referring to the advantage of nuclear propulsion in that they can stay submerged longer without refueling.

Japan’s Atomic Energy Basic Law stipulates that the use of nuclear power will be limited to peaceful purposes. Takaichi said there was “a need to sort things out” but added she did not believe nuclear-powered submarines to be unconstitutional. 

Former LDP policy chief Fumio Kishida, meanwhile, was less receptive to the idea. “When I think about Japan’s national security arrangements, to what extent do we need it?” he asked.

Nuclear-powered submarines are faster and can travel longer compared to the diesel-electric submarines that Japan currently has. But Kishida was alluding to the fact that the Self-Defense Forces’ operations are primarily in areas close to Japan.  

“To maintain stealth, it will require long hours of work,” he said. “We have to prioritize improving working conditions [of sailors] and secure the personnel.”

Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force has struggled to hire sailors in a country whose population is declining. Submarines are especially unpopular among young recruits, partly because they are unable to use their smartphones for extended periods.

Seiko Noda, the LDP’s executive acting secretary-general, said: “I have no intention to hold such a capability. I want to make clear that we are a nation with three non-nuclear principles,” she said, pointing to Japan’s long-held position of neither possessing nor manufacturing nuclear weapons, nor permitting their introduction into Japanese territory.

“This is not a situation where we can immediately buy and start to use the submarines,” she said. “We must properly establish a national consensus.” 

On Sept. 16,  the U.S., the U.K. and Australia announced an enhanced trilateral security partnership called AUKUS, that will see Washington and London share sensitive nuclear-propulsion technology with Canberra to develop a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines. It is a move to bolster deterrence against China’s growing maritime power.

September 28, 2021 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Texas sues federal government to block nuclear waste facility along New Mexico border

Texas sues federal government to block nuclear waste facility along New Mexico border, Adrian Hedden, Carlsbad Current-Argus, 27 Sept 21,   A lawsuit filed by the State of Texas last week stated a proposal to build a storage facility for nuclear waste in the state “unlawful” and called on a federal appeals court to vacate a federal license issued for the project earlier this month..

Interim Storage Partners (ISP) received the license from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to build a temporary storage facility for spent nuclear fuel rods in Andrews, Texas along the state’s western border to New Mexico.

The project, an expansion of the company’s facility in Andrews that holds low-level waste, would ultimately hold up to 40,000 metric tons of the high-level waste temporarily until a permanent repository is available.

There is presently no permanent holding place for the waste and critics of the project feared it could become a “de facto” permanent resting place for the waste.

The lawsuit filed Sept. 23  by Abbott and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality in the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals demanded the court review and ultimately vacate the license.

“Petitioners pray that, upon review, the Court will hold unlawful and set aside the order issuing Materials License No. SNM-2515 and vacate the License,” the lawsuit read………………..

September 28, 2021 Posted by | legal, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Climate change to loom large in talks to form new German government

Climate change to loom large in talks to form new German government

Strong results for green and liberal parties mean climate and energy policies are expected to feature heavily in upcoming coalition talks.

September 28, 2021 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

SNP and the Greens aim to block Boris Johnson’s plan for new nuclear plants in Scotland.

Nicola Sturgeon is expected to temper Boris Johnson’s energy plans by
signalling her intention to block the creation of nuclear plants in
Scotland. The Sunday Times yesterday revealed a push by Rishi Sunak, the
chancellor, for more nuclear power stations to be built to help Britain
reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

A source close to Sunak said:
“His general view is that we should have been doing this ten years ago
when it was cheaper, but we can’t rely on wind and solar power.”

However, the Scottish government, which controls the planning process north
of the border, opposes the technology. Asked for its response to the news
from Whitehall, it referred The Times to a recent statement that it was
“absolutely clear in its opposition to the building of new nuclear power
plants in Scotland under current technologies”.

 Times 27th Sept 2021

September 28, 2021 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment