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U.S. Militarism’s Toxic Impact on Climate Policy

Biden told the UN General Assembly that “…as we close this period of relentless war, we’re opening a new era of relentless diplomacy.” But his exclusive new military alliance with the U.K. and Australia, and his request for a further increase in military spending to escalate a dangerous arms race with China that the United States started in the first place, reveal just how far Biden has to go to live up to his own rhetoric, on diplomacy as well as on climate change

U.S. Militarism’s Toxic Impact on Climate Policy,    Medea Benjamin and Nicolas J. S. Davies LA Progressive  22 Sept 21,  President Biden addressed the UN General Assembly on September 21 with a warning that the climate crisis is fast approaching a “point of no return,” and a promise that the United States would rally the world to action. “We will lead not just with the example of our power but, God willing, with the power of our example,” he said

But the U.S. is not a leader when it comes to saving our planet. Yahoo News recently published a report titled “Why the U.S. Lags Behind Europe on Climate Goals by 10 or 15 years.” The article was a rare acknowledgment in the U.S. corporate media that the United States has not only failed to lead the world on the climate crisis, but has actually been the main culprit blocking timely collective action to head off a global existential crisis. 

The anniversary of September 11th and the U.S. defeat in Afghanistan should be ringing alarm bells inside the head of every American, warning us that we have allowed our government to spend trillions of dollars waging war, chasing shadows, selling arms and fueling conflict all over the world, while ignoring real existential dangers to our civilization and all of humanity. 

The world’s youth are dismayed by their parents’ failures to tackle the climate crisis. A new survey of 10,000 people between the ages of 16 and 25 in ten countries around the world found that many of them think humanity is doomed and that they have no future.

Three quarters of the young people surveyed said they are afraid of what the future will bring, and 40% say the crisis makes them hesitant to have children. They are also frightened, confused and angered by the failure of governments to respond to the crisis. As the BBC reported, “They feel betrayed, ignored and abandoned by politicians and adults.” 

Young people in the U.S. have even more reason to feel betrayed than their European counterparts. America lags far behind Europe on renewable energy. European countries started fulfilling their climate commitments under the Kyoto Protocol in the 1990s and now get 40% of their electricity from renewable sources, while renewables provide only 20% of electric power in America. ………..

 the enormous amount of money the U.S. spends on militarism. Since 2001, the United States has allocated $15 trillion (in FY2022 dollars) to its military budget, outspending its 20 closest military competitors combined. The U.S. spends far more of its GDP (the total value of goods produced and services) on the military than any of the other 29 Nato countries—3.7% in 2020 compared to 1.77%. And while the U.S. has been putting intense pressure on NATO countries to spend at least 2% of their GDP on their militaries, only ten of them have done so. Unlike in the U.S., the military establishment in Europe has to contend with significant opposition from liberal politicians and a more educated and mobilized public.  ………

On climate change, the infrastructure bill includes only $10 billion per year for conversion to green energy, an important but small step that will not reverse our current course toward a catastrophic future. Investments in a Green New Deal must be bookended by corresponding reductions in the military budget if we are to correct our government’s perverted and destructive priorities in any lasting way. This means standing up to the weapons industry and military contractors, which the Biden administration has so far failed to do. 

The reality of America’s 20-year arms race with itself makes complete nonsense of the administration’s claims that the recent arms build-up by China now requires the U.S. to spend even more. China spends only a third of what the U.S. spends, and what is driving China’s increased military spending is its need to defend itself against the ever-growing U.S. war machine that has been “pivoting” to the waters, skies and islands surrounding its shores since the Obama administration.

Biden told the UN General Assembly that “…as we close this period of relentless war, we’re opening a new era of relentless diplomacy.” But his exclusive new military alliance with the U.K. and Australia, and his request for a further increase in military spending to escalate a dangerous arms race with China that the United States started in the first place, reveal just how far Biden has to go to live up to his own rhetoric, on diplomacy as well as on climate change

The United States must go to the UN Climate Summit in Glasgow in November ready to sign on to the kind of radical steps that the UN and less developed countries are calling for. It must make a real commitment to leaving fossil fuels in the ground; quickly convert to a net-zero renewable energy economy; and help developing countries to do the same. As UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres says, the summit in Glasgow “must be the turning point” in the climate crisis.

That will require the United States to seriously reduce the military budget and commit to peaceful, practical diplomacy with China and Russia. Genuinely moving on from our self-inflicted military failures and the militarism that led to them would free up the U.S. to enact programs that address the real existential crisis our planet faces – a crisis against which warships, bombs and missiles are worse than useless. https://www.laprogressive.com/toxic-impact-on-climate-policy/

September 23, 2021 Posted by | climate change, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Scientists still don’t know how far melting in Antarctica will go – or the sea level rise it will unleash

Scientists still don’t know how far melting in Antarctica will go – or the sea level rise it will unleash

Chen Zhao and Rupert Gladstone

The Antarctic ice sheet is the largest mass of ice in the world, holding around 60% of the world’s fresh water. If it all melted, global average sea levels would rise by 58 metres. But scientists are grappling with exactly how global warming will affect this great ice sheet.

September 21, 2021 Posted by | ANTARCTICA, climate change, oceans | Leave a comment

AUKUS military agreement – bad timing ahead of Glascow Climate Summit.

 The timing of the new defence deal between the US, UK and Australia has dismayed climate experts, who fear it could have a negative effect on hopes of a deal with China on greenhouse gas emissions ahead of vital UN climate talks.

The Aukus trilateral security partnership has been interpreted as seeking to counterbalance Chinese power in the Asia-Pacific region, and has been likened to a new cold war by China. A Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson warned the three countries to “respect regional people’s aspiration and do more that is conducive to regional peace and stability
and development – otherwise they will only end up hurting their own interests”.

Tom Burke, founder of the E3G environmental thinktank, said: “This [Aukus announcement] is bad timing ahead of Cop26, as Glasgow is time-critical and it’s hard to see what was critical about the timing of this announcement. It does not appear to suggest that the prime minister is taking Glasgow very seriously. And it exposes the fact that he has not gotmuch to offer ahead of Glasgow.”

 Guardian 16th Sept 2021

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/sep/16/aukus-pact-dash-hopes-china-emissions-deal-cop26-climate

September 19, 2021 Posted by | climate change, Ukraine | Leave a comment

New research shows drastic climate effects of even a ”limited” nuclear war


Climate Change from Nuclear War’s Smoke Could Threaten Global Food Supplies, Human Health,  https://www.miragenews.com/climate-change-from-nuclear-wars-smoke-could-632826/ Rutgers University, 15 Sep 21,

Nuclear war would cause many immediate fatalities, but smoke from the resulting fires would also cause climate change lasting up to 15 years that threatens worldwide food production and human health, according to a study by researchers at Rutgers University, the National Center for Atmospheric Research and other institutions.

The study appears in the Journal of Geophysical Research – Atmospheres.

Scientists have long understood that nuclear weapons used on cities and industrial areas could initiate large-scale fires whose massive amounts of smoke injected into the stratosphere could cause global climate change, leading to the term “nuclear winter.”

But in the new study, researchers for the first time used a modern climate model, including aerosols and nitric oxide emissions, to simulate the effects on ozone chemistry and surface ultraviolet light caused by absorption of sunlight by smoke from regional and global nuclear wars.

This could lead to a loss of most of our protective ozone layer, taking a decade to recover and resulting in several years of extremely high ultraviolet light at the Earth’s surface and further endangering human health and food supplies.

“Although we suspected that ozone would be destroyed after nuclear war and that would result in enhanced ultraviolet light at the Earth’s surface, if there was too much smoke, it would block out the ultraviolet light,” said one of the study’s authors Alan Robock, a Distinguished Professor in the Department of Environmental Sciences at Rutgers University-New Brunswick. “Now, for the first time, we have calculated how this would work and quantified how it would depend on the amount of smoke.”

The study’s results showed that for a regional nuclear war between India and Pakistan that would generate five megatons of soot, the enhanced ultraviolet light would begin within a year. For a global war between the United States and Russia generating 150 megatons, it would only begin after about eight years. For intermediate amounts of smoke, the effects would fall between these extreme cases.

For a global nuclear war, heating in the stratosphere and other factors would cause a 15 year-long reduction in the ozone column, with a peak loss of 75 percent globally and 65 percent in the tropics. This is larger than predictions from the 1980s, which assumed large injections of nitrogen oxides but did not include the effects of smoke.

For a regional nuclear war, the global column ozone would be reduced by 25 percent with recovery taking 12 years. This is similar to previous simulations but with a faster recovery time due to a shorter lifetime for soot in the new simulations.

“The bottom line is that nuclear war would be even worse than we thought, and must be avoided,” Robock said. “For the future, in other work, we have calculated how agriculture would change based on the changes of temperature, rain and sunlight, but have not yet included the effects of ultraviolet light. In addition, the ultraviolet light would damage animals, including us, increasing cancer and cataracts.”

The study, which included Rutgers Research Associate Lili Xia, also included researchers from the University of Colorado, NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, Columbia University, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, and Autonomous University of Barcelona.

September 16, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

Turkey Point nuclear station vulnerable to hurricanes, sea level rise, as climate change continues


Safety concerns at Turkey Point are rising, along with the sea level
https://www.miamiherald.com/opinion/op-ed/article253692763.html

BY RACHEL SILVERSTEIN AUGUST 24, 2021 The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) recently granted the world’s first 80-year operating license to Miami’s Turkey Point nuclear reactor – that’s 40 years longer than the plant was ever meant to operate. While there are environmental concerns, this is, first and foremost, an issue of safety.

In the past year alone, three staff members were fired for forging safety inspections, and the plant experienced four unplanned shutdowns, or “scrams” — a disconcerting series of events that led the NRC to take the rare step of downgrading Turkey Point’s safety rating. Turkey Point is now one of only three reactors (out of almost 100 operating nationwide) to have received that ignominious distinction. As Turkey Point’s neighbors, this should alarm us.

Built in the 1970s by Florida Power & Light (FPL) — at a time when the world’s most powerful computers contained about as much storage capacity as a Casio watch — Turkey Point is the NRC’s first foray into this high-stakes game of nuclear roulette. The NRC’s extended license will allow the Turkey Point reactor to continue limping along through 2052. No nuclear plant anywhere in the world has ever operated that long, and the plant — with its Cold War technology, Cold War design and Cold War engineering — was never intended to do so.

If you live in South Florida, you likely know all about the crippling deficiencies that have hampered this aging plant for the past decade or so. It is uncontested, even by FPL, that the reactor’s cooling system — a giant, radiator-like series of unlined canals that’s not used in any other plant in the United States — has been leaking into Miami’s drinking-water supply; this contamination, in turn, has made it difficult for the reactor to tap into a reliable source of fresh water — without which the scalding reactor cannot properly cool itself.

South Florida, of course, gets hurricanes, and Turkey Point — like the Japanese reactor at Fukushima — sits precariously right on the water’s edge, with a growing population of more than 3 million people living less than 25 miles away. Now layer on the NRC’s refusal to consider realistic sea-level rise projections. Instead of trusting federal government recommendations to plan critical infrastructure for at least 6 feet of sea level rise by 2100, the NRC, instead, is accepting FPL’s own internal estimate: just one foot of sea-level rise by 2100.

Even the least severe government projections (as calculated by University of Florida mapping tools) predict that the cooling system will be underwater by 2040 — 12 years before this new license is set to expire.

Given the lessons of Chernobyl and Fukushima —that the costs of nuclear meltdowns are essentially infinite — should this unaccountable administrative agency really get to ignore key science from other federal agencies? This is why citizen groups such as mine and our partners have been challenging this license through the NRC’s administrative court system.

But the NRC granted this unprecedented license to FPL before our appeal had even been decided, let alone heard by a federal judge.

In doing so, the agency has seriously curtailed judicial oversight of the executive branch. Considering the close relationship between the nuclear industry and the NRC, it’s no surprise that the NRC has never — not once — refused to extend a nuclear reactor’s operating license.

Our community deserves to have all the facts about Turkey Point and its safety considerations. Reach out to our representatives to get answers to these important questions:

Who is in charge of a cleanup if the canals or the plant is inundated? What is FPL’s plan for dealing with sea-level rise? What is Plan B for providing energy to this region if the plant can no longer operate? What does this alarming safety-rating downgrade mean for us?

Our country, in short, doesn’t need limitless license extensions for flood-prone, leaking, vulnerable nuclear plants. What we need instead is to unleash American scientific and technical ingenuity to engineer the renewable-energy solutions of the future — and the regulatory support to foster the emergence of these new solutions.

Rachel Silverstein, Ph.D., is executive director and waterkeeper of Miami Waterkeeper, a South Florida-based non-profit organization with a mission to ensure swimmable, drinkable, fishable, water.

“The Invading Sea” is the opinion arm of the Florida Climate Reporting Network, a collaborative of news organizations across the state focusing on the threats posed by the warming climate.

September 14, 2021 Posted by | climate change, safety, USA | Leave a comment

Climate change, sea level rise – real and present danger to UK’s Bradwell and Sizewell nuclear sites

Climate Change the big issue for nuclear power on the East coast,  https://www.banng.info/news/press-releases/climate-change-and-nuclear-power/ 11 September 2021   According to Andrew Blowers, Emeritus Professor of Social Sciences at the Open University, Climate Change has become the overriding issue facing the future of the proposed Sizewell C and Bradwell B nuclear power projects on the East Anglian coast. ‘Far from being a solution to the problem of Climate Change, new nuclear power stations like Sizewell C and Bradwell B on the fragile and vulnerable east coast, are likely to become victims of the inevitable, imminent and irreversible consequences of global warming’, he said.

Speaking at a Specific Hearing at the Sizewell C Examination to discuss Policy and Need, Professor Blowers stated that Climate Change was the ‘transformative issue’ of Policy and should be at the very heart of the discussion about building coastal infrastructures like nuclear power stations.

He was disappointed that the Examination Agenda was narrowly framed and the process favoured a legalistic approach. This encouraged a fragmented discussion and a tendency to focus on specific details while losing sight of the bigger picture.

The Examination process must raise its sights from the interminable and obfuscating legalistic debates controlled by developers and give attention to the real and present danger that Climate Change poses for the security and viability of projects in such unsuitable locations. ‘

‘Put simply, there is little justification for these huge structures in terms of need. But, regardless of need, given the threat to the integrity of the sites and the risks to present and future generations and environments, the proposals should be scrapped forthwith’.

The recent Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has spelled out in uncompromising, incontrovertible and unequivocal terms that a rise in global temperatures of 1.50C above pre-industrial levels is already inevitable. It is highly likely that 20C, the level which scientists say may just be manageable, will be reached by the end of the century, and possibly before, if present trends are not arrested. Sea level rise will be around a metre and, as ice melts and oceans heat up, it will continue thereafter. The IPCC states that a sea level rise of 2 metres by 2100 and 5 metres by 2150 ‘cannot be ruled out due to deep uncertainty in ice sheet processes’.

As sea levels rise, the frequency and severity of coastal flooding and erosion will increase and extreme events that occurred once in a century in the recent past are projected, in some scenarios, to occur annually in future. Of course, there is great uncertainty the further forward we look. But, what is certain, is that the impacts of climate change on sea level rise, storm surges and coastal processes could render these east coast sites unviable. This would pose a threat to the security of the highly radioactive wastes remaining stored on site until the latter half of the next century.

At the Hearing, Sizewell C’s developer, EDF relied on governmental polices enshrined in National Policy Statements (NPSs), now ten years old, to claim that the nuclear energy from Sizewell C was necessary. In its more recent pronouncements, the Government is far more equivocal in its support for nuclear energy from such large-scale power stations.

Regardless of whether nuclear is needed at all, Sizewell and Bradwell are manifestly not ‘potentially suitable’ sites as originally indicated in the NPS all those years ago. At both sites the developers claim that the hard defences proposed will be sufficient to protect the nuclear islands against the ravages of climate change.

But, beyond the end of the century, sea level will continue to rise and the impacts become more severe and scenarios for the worst case but plausible change are increasingly uncertain. It becomes impossible to make specific projections and modelling of more extreme coastal conditions is problematic. ‘What possible use will be projections into an unknowable future?’, asks Professor Blowers.

‘It is all too little, too late. I believe we must take the issue of Climate Change seriously and refuse permission to develop these coastal nuclear power stations. It seems inconceivable that the defensive structures can survive intact into the unknown but worsening conditions of continuing sea level rise and extreme events that are inevitable in the future. There can be no possible justification for inflicting this legacy on our coastal communities now and in the future.’

September 14, 2021 Posted by | climate change, UK | Leave a comment

Expert response to the pro nuclear report by the Joint Research Centre

Any major expansion of nuclear energy would delay the decommissioning of fossil-fired power plants, as the latter would have to remain in operation during this period and therefore make it hard to achieve the climate change mitigation objective. It is even possible to argue that nuclear energy hinders the use of other alternatives with low CO2 emissions because of its high capital intensity.  Otherwise this capital could be used to expand alternative energy sources like sun, wind and water

While nuclear power generation in the electricity generation phase has been associated with relatively low greenhouse gas emissions from a historical perspective, the lions’ share of greenhouse gas emissions in the nuclear fuel cycle is caused by the front-end and back-end processing stages. Based on estimates, the CO2 emissions can be broken down into the construction of nuclear power plants (18%), uranium mining and enrichment (38%), operations (17%), processing and storing nuclear fuel (15%) and decommissioning activities at the power plant (18%) (BMK, 2020, p.6)   

Generating huge quantities of dangerous waste is being continued for decades without any effective disposal solution being available. The JRC itself says that the primary and best waste management strategy is not to generate any radioactive waste in the first place. However, this assessment is not consistently applied within the report. 

The draft of the delegated legal act is based on the recommendations of the so-called Technical Expert Group (TEG). …..The TEG did not recommend that nuclear energy should be included in the EU taxonomy register at that time and recommended an in-depth study of the DNSH criteria (TEG, 2020b). 

It is clear that the JRC barely touched on some environment-related aspects of using nuclear energy or did not consider them in its assessment at all.

.…  Questions must also be raised about the ageing process and the brittleness of materials and therefore the long-term behaviour of nuclear power plants beyond the original design period. 

This very positive presentation of future prospects for nuclear energy, which is shown in the JRC Report, must be viewed critically………..this presentation by the JRC is suspect from a professional point of view and possibly indicates a lack of adequate independence .

  Expert response to the report by the Joint Research Centre entitled “Technical assessment of nuclear energy with respect to the ‛Do No Significant Harm’ criteria in Regulation (EU) 2020/852, the ‛Taxonomy Regulation’”    Particularly considering the suitability of criteria for including nuclear energy in EU taxonomy The Federal Office for the Safety of Nuclear Waste Management (BASE) with support from the Federal Office for Radiation Protection (BfS)  June 2021


Summary

The Federal Office for the Safety of Nuclear Waste Management (BASE) with support from the Federal Office for Radiation Protection (BfS), acting on behalf of the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU), has examined the report by the Joint Research Centre (JRC) of the European Union (EU) entitled “Technical assessment of nuclear energy with respect to the ‘Do No Significant Harm’ criteria of Regulation (EU) 2020/852 (‘Taxonomy Regulation’)” to see whether the JRC has used expertise that is complete and comprehensible when determining whether the use of nuclear fission to generate energy can be included in the taxonomy register. 

The Taxonomy Regulation defines criteria that determine whether an economic activity (and therefore investments in this activity) can be viewed as ecologically sustainable. The JRC, the EU’s research centre, concludes in its report dated March 2021 that the conditions for including nuclear energy in EU taxonomy are met in terms of the “Do No Significant Harm” criteria (DNSH). Prior to this, the Technical Expert Group (TEG) had not yet recommended the inclusion of nuclear energy in EU taxonomy and advised the EU Commission to review the DNSH criteria more closely. 


This expert response finds that the JRC has drawn conclusions that are hard to deduce at numerous points. Subject areas that are very relevant to the environment have also only been presented very briefly or have been ignored. For example, the effects of severe accidents on the environment are not included when assessing whether to include nuclear energy in the taxonomy register – yet they have occurred several times over the last few decades. This raises the question of whether the JRC has selected too narrow a framework of observation. The aspects mentioned and others listed in this expert response suggest that this is true. 

This expert response also points out that the JRC mentions topics, but then fails to consider them further or in more detail, although they must be included in any assessment of the sustainability of using nuclear energy. The need to consider them is partly based on the fact that certain effects on the other environmental objectives in the Taxonomy Regulation must be expected if the matter is viewed more closely or at least cannot be excluded. In other cases, this need results from the fact that the Taxonomy Regulation refers to the UN approach in its 2030 Agenda in its understanding of sustainability – and the latter, for example, contains the goals of “considering future generations” and “participative decision-making”. Any sustainability, particularly for future generations, can only be guaranteed if attempts are made at an early stage to achieve acceptance in the population, enable future generations to handle the use of nuclear energy and its legacy or waste appropriately and ensure that information and knowledge are maintained in the long term. Generally speaking, it should be noted that the problem of disposing of radioactive waste has already been postponed by previous generations to today’s and it will ‘remain’ a problem for many future generations. The principle of “no undue burdens for future generations” (pp. 250ff) has therefore already been (irrevocably) infringed, while the DNSH-hurdle “significant[ly] harm” has also been infringed. 

Continue reading

September 13, 2021 Posted by | climate change, EUROPE, politics international, Reference, spinbuster | Leave a comment

The nuclear lobby gears up to take ”green” nuclear energy spin to the European Commission and on to COP26

As German election nears, EU plays for time on nuclear’s green recognition. Euractiv, 10 Sept 21, The inclusion of nuclear power in the EU’s green finance taxonomy is “the most likely” outcome in view of the scientific reports submitted to the European Commission in the past months, EU experts believe. But Brussels is not entirely decided yet and is seen playing for time before the German election this month.

Is nuclear electricity a green source of energy or does it pose a “significant harm” to the environment?This seemingly simple debate, which has divided EU politicians for the last two years, is about to reach its climax with a decision expected in the coming months……………

The Commission’s in-house scientific body, the Joint Research Centre, released a much-awaited report on nuclear power on 2 April. Its conclusions were clear: nuclear power is a safe, low-carbon energy source comparable to wind and hydropower, and as such, it qualifies for a green investment label under the EU’s green finance taxonomy.

These conclusions were subsequently backed by two other EU bodies, the Euratom Article 31 expert group and the Scientific Committee on Health, Environmental and Emerging Risks (SCHEER)…………

Diplomats and industry lobbyists consulted by EURACTIV concurred: the most likely outcome is that the European Commission will table a proposal in the coming months, possibly as late as November or December, after the formation of the new German government.

From what we understand, the [proposal] itself will likely come out around October–December this year,” said Jessica Johnson, communications director at Foratom, the trade association representing the nuclear industry in Brussels.

An EU diplomat, for his part, spoke of “September-November”.

German political hurdles

The recognition of nuclear power as a ‘green’ source of energy is not a foregone conclusion though, and the decision could still go either way because of continued opposition to nuclear in Germany and four other EU member states.

In July, Germany’s environment minister Svenja Schulze sent a letter to the Commission – also signed by her counterparts in Austria, Denmark, Luxembourg, and Spain – asking for nuclear to be kept out of the EU’s green finance taxonomy.

The topic is politically sensitive in Germany, which is about to complete its nuclear phase-out next year. Any move by the European Commission to label the energy source as ‘green’ is likely to pollute the political debate ahead of the election on 26 September………….

German political hurdles

The recognition of nuclear power as a ‘green’ source of energy is not a foregone conclusion though, and the decision could still go either way because of continued opposition to nuclear in Germany and four other EU member states.

In July, Germany’s environment minister Svenja Schulze sent a letter to the Commission – also signed by her counterparts in Austria, Denmark, Luxembourg, and Spain – asking for nuclear to be kept out of the EU’s green finance taxonomy.

The topic is politically sensitive in Germany, which is about to complete its nuclear phase-out next year. Any move by the European Commission to label the energy source as ‘green’ is likely to pollute the political debate ahead of the election on 26 September.

“Assuming that the Commission already knows it is going to propose including nuclear in the taxonomy, it would indeed be in its own interest to wait for the outcome of the German elections,”  said Thomas Pellerin-Carlin, a researcher and director at the Jacques Delors Institute’s energy centre. 

From the Commission’s point of view, the German election may not be the biggest source of worry, though.

In the pro-nuclear camp, positions are possibly even more entrenched, with France leading a coalition of seven pro-nuclear countries, which also includes Czechia, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia.

France will fight for nuclear to be considered as a decarbonised energy source in Europe,” said the country’s economy minister Bruno Le Maire.

“I don’t want there to be any doubts about this. We will lead this fight with the greatest determination,” he said in April……..

French elections looming large

Seen from Brussels, the political context in France may actually appear more daunting than the German one.

With the presidential election coming up next April, a negative decision on nuclear risks triggering a political backlash in France, just as the country prepares to take the rotating EU Council Presidency in January.

“It would fuel French political attacks on ‘Brussels’” from a wide range of parties, Pellerin-Carlin said. In turn, this would undermine Emmanuel Macron’s re-election campaign because the French president has always positioned himself as a convinced pro-European.

“From a political point of view, the debate on nuclear power and the taxonomy risks raising questions about Macron’s European record and Europe’s place in France,” he said……………

the anti-nuclear camp has not given up just yet. And the most prominent critic is the German environment ministry, which appointed its own expert group to review the EU’s JRC study.

In their conclusions, published on 14 July, the German experts slammed the JRC report for ignoring entire subject areas like the possibility of a nuclear accident.

“For example, the effects of severe accidents on the environment are not included when assessing whether to include nuclear energy in the taxonomy register – yet they have occurred several times over the last few decades,” the report noted. “This raises the question of whether the JRC has selected too narrow a framework of observation,” it added.

The German experts also remarked that the JRC mentions topics like radioactive waste disposal, but then fails to consider them in more detail.

“The JRC itself says that the primary and best waste management strategy is not to generate any radioactive waste in the first place. However, this assessment is not consistently applied within the report,” the German experts wrote.

According to them, “the JRC Report is therefore incomplete and fails to comprehensively assess the sustainability of using nuclear energy.”

A pro-nuclear Commission

So what will the Commission now do?

According to Pellerin-Carlin, the various scientific reports have clearly paved the way for the Commission to label nuclear as ‘green’.

“The current dynamics lead me to think that the Commission will make a proposal in this direction,” he told EURACTIV. “According to expert reports that have been issued, there is not enough evidence that waste is a problem that causes ‘significant’ harm to the environment,” he said.

Besides, the European Commission itself is seen as broadly pro-nuclear. “Within the Commission, President Ursula von der Leyen is not known for taking anti-nuclear positions, unlike many German politicians,” Pellerin-Carlin pointed out.

“In fact, looking at the College of Commissioners, I don’t see anyone who is fiercely anti-nuclear,” he added, saying a majority of Commissioners “have accepted nuclear power as a transitional energy source, and in any case as a necessary evil” in the energy transition, while coal is being phased out.

“And then within the Commission, there is Thierry Breton, who is a key figure on this subject, and who somewhat exceeds his prerogatives as Internal Market Commissioner by campaigning publicly in favour of nuclear power.”

Throwing gas into the mix

The outcome of the Commission’s thinking may be slightly different though, and could also incorporate natural gas into the mix.

In its April communication on the taxonomy, the EU executive said it “will adopt a complementary delegated act” that will cover nuclear energy subject to the completion of the various EU scientific assessments. “This complementary Delegated Act will also cover natural gas and related technologies as transitional activity,” the Commission added………..

French elections looming large

Seen from Brussels, the political context in France may actually appear more daunting than the German one.

With the presidential election coming up next April, a negative decision on nuclear risks triggering a political backlash in France, just as the country prepares to take the rotating EU Council Presidency in January.    https://www.euractiv.com/section/energy/news/as-german-election-nears-eu-plays-for-time-on-nuclears-green-recognition/

September 13, 2021 Posted by | climate change, EUROPE, politics international | Leave a comment

”Fossil Free Media” aims to redress the balance of well-funded press that opposes action on climate change.

Jamie Henn, a co-founder of the climate group 350.org, had for a long time noticed a gap in climate advocacy that many had overlooked: while the fossil fuel industry pours money into ad campaigns, much of the climate movement simply doesn’t have the resources to do that work.

Inspired to change that, Henn launched Fossil Free Media to give public relations and communications support to grassroots groups taking on the fossil fuel industry and campaigning for climate justice. Fossil Free Media is also
trying to change the wider PR and advertising industry through its Clean Creatives campaign, pressuring agencies to break their ties with the fossil fuel industry.

 Guardian 11th Sept 2021

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2021/sep/11/greenwash-fossil-fuels-ad-agencies

September 13, 2021 Posted by | climate change, media | Leave a comment

Forget plans to lower emissions by 2050 – this is deadly procrastination

This might seem to have nothing to do with nuclear powet. But I think that it does. The politicians, the pundits, the journalists – well – most will be dead by 2050, or at least out of the limelight.. In the meantime, the technofix spruikers can confidently spruik their favourite fix – clean carbon, ccarbon capture and storage, geoengineering, – with the nuclear lobby enthusiastically joining in the procrastination

Forget plans to lower emissions by 2050 – this is deadly procrastination https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/sep/10/net-zero-2050-deadly-procrastination-fossil-fuels, Peter Kalmus

 Fixating on ‘net zero’ means betting the future of life on Earth that someone will invent some kind of whiz-bang tech to draw down CO2

The world has by and large adopted “net zero by 2050” as its de facto climate goal, but two fatal flaws hide in plain sight within those 16 characters. One is “net zero.” The other is “by 2050”.

These two flaws provide cover for big oil and politicians who wish to preserve the status quo. Together they comprise a deadly prescription for inaction and catastrophically high levels of irreversible climate and ecological breakdown.

First, consider “by 2050”. This deadline feels comfortably far away, encouraging further climate procrastination. Who feels urgency over a deadline in 2050? This is convenient for the world’s elected leaders, who typically have term limits of between three and five years, less so for anyone who needs a livable planet.

The world has by and large adopted “net zero by 2050” as its de facto climate goal, but two fatal flaws hide in plain sight within those 16 characters. One is “net zero.” The other is “by 2050”.

These two flaws provide cover for big oil and politicians who wish to preserve the status quo. Together they comprise a deadly prescription for inaction and catastrophically high levels of irreversible climate and ecological breakdown.

First, consider “by 2050”. This deadline feels comfortably far away, encouraging further climate procrastination. Who feels urgency over a deadline in 2050? This is convenient for the world’s elected leaders, who typically have term limits of between three and five years, less so for anyone who needs a livable planet.

Pathways for achieving net zero by 2050 – meaning that in 2050 any carbon emissions would be balanced by CO2 withdrawn through natural means, like forests, and through hypothetical carbon-trapping technology – are designed to give roughly even odds for keeping global heating below 1.5C. But it’s now apparent that even the current 1.1C of global heating is not a “safe” level. Climate catastrophes are arriving with a frequency and ferocity that have shocked climate scientists. The fact that climate models failed to predict the intensity of the summer’s heatwaves and flooding suggests that severe impacts will come sooner than previously thought. Madagascar is on the brink of the first climate famine, and developments such as multi-regional crop losses and climate warfare even before reaching 1.5C should no longer be ruled out.

Meanwhile, “net zero” is a phrase that represents magical thinking rooted in our society’s technology fetish. Just presuppose enough hypothetical carbon capture and you can pencil out a plan for meeting any climate goal, even while allowing the fossil fuel industry to keep growing. While there may be useful negative-emissions strategies such as reforestation and conservation agriculture, their carbon capture potential is small compared with cumulative fossil fuel carbon emissions, and their effects may not be permanent. Policymakers are betting the future of life on Earth that someone will invent some kind of whiz-bang tech to draw down CO2 at a massive scale.

The world’s largest direct air capture facility opened this month in Iceland; if it works, it will capture one ten-millionth of humanity’s current emissions, and due to its expense it is not yet scalable. It is the deepest of moral failures to casually saddle today’s young people with a critical task that may prove unfeasible by orders of magnitude – and expecting them to somehow accomplish this amid worsening heatwaves, fires, storms and floods that will pummel financial, insurance, infrastructure, water, food, health and political systems.

It should tell us all we need to know about “net zero by 2050” that it is supported by fossil fuel executives, and that climate uber-villain Rupert Murdoch has embraced it through his News Corp Australia mouthpiece.

So where does this leave us? Stabilizing the rapidly escalating destruction of the Earth will require directly scaling back and ultimately ending fossil fuels. To lower the odds of civilizational collapse, society must shift into emergency mode.

It will be easy to tell when society has begun this shift: leaders will begin to take actions that actually inflict pain on big oil, such as ending fossil fuel subsidies and placing a moratorium on all new oil and gas infrastructure.

Then rapid emissions descent could begin. I believe the global zero-emissions goal should be set no later than 2035; high-emitting nations have a moral obligation to go faster, and to provide transition assistance to low-emitting nations. Crucially, any zero goal must be paired with a commitment to annual reductions leading steadily to this goal year by year, and binding plans across all levels of government to achieve those annual targets. If this sounds extreme, bear in mind that climate breakdown has still only barely begun and that the damage will be irreversible.

Negative emissions strategies must also be left out of climate planning – in other words, forget the “net” in “net zero”. Otherwise they will continue to provide the distraction and delay sought by the fossil fuel industry. It would be beyond foolish to gamble our planet on technologies that may never exist at scale.

Due to the decades of inaction dishonestly engineered by fossil fuel executives, the speed and scale now required is staggering. There is no longer any incremental way out. It’s time to grow up and let go of the fantasy that we can get out of this without big changes that affect our lives. Policy steps that seem radical today – for example, proposals to nationalize the fossil fuel industry and ration oil and gas supplies – will seem less radical with each new climate disaster. Climate emergency mode will require personal sacrifice, especially from the high-emitting rich. But civilizational collapse would be unimaginably worse.

As a climate scientist, I am terrified by what I see coming. I want world leaders to stop hiding behind magical thinking and feel the same terror. Then they would finally end fossil fuels.

This story is published as part of Covering Climate Now, a global collaboration of news outlets strengthening coverage of the climate story.

September 11, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | 1 Comment

Jane Goodall still has hope for humanity. Here’s why

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – OCTOBER 11: Dr Jane Goodall poses for a photo at Taronga Zoo on October 11, 2008 in Sydney, Australia. Goodall, the world renowned primatologist, has acknowledged the breeding and work research carried out by the Chimpanzee Group at Taronga Zoo over recent years. (Photo by Robert Gray/Getty Images)

How a tree, a dog and a chimpanzee taught Jane Goodall to hold on to hope
ABC Radio National /  By Karen Tong and Meredith Lake for Soul Search 11 Sept 21,

Throughout her life, acclaimed ethologist Jane Goodall has witnessed an array of environmental destruction, from deforestation to the loss of biodiversity to the catastrophic effects of climate change.

But despite this, Dr Goodall still has hope. Lots of it.

“I saw places that we had utterly destroyed, covered with concrete, but give nature a chance and she’ll reclaim it,” she tells RN’s Soul Search.

“I saw animals on the very brink of extinction, [but] because people care, they’ve been given another chance.”

This outlook has not come easily, and Dr Goodall credits it to a collection of “teachers” in life who have given her lessons of “humanity and hope.”

Five of these most important “teachers” include a reading tree, her first dog and – of course – her beloved chimps…………………

Hope for the future

Dr Goodall is still pushing boundaries as a conservation leader and activist – and she’s still cultivating an extraordinary capacity for curiosity, wonder and hope.

“I can’t wave a magic wand, but I can spend all my effort in trying to get everybody to realise that if we get together, if each one of us does what we can to make a difference every day, we start moving away from the doom and gloom,” she says……  https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-09-11/jane-goodall-on-humanity-and-hope/100375246

September 11, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change, environment, Religion and ethics | Leave a comment

We need global action on climate, just like global action on pandemic – Jane Goodall

Jane Goodall says global disregard for nature brought on coronavirus pandemic, ABC South West Vic / By Kirsten Diprose and Matt Neal, 11 Apr 2020  Renowned conservationist and activist Dr Jane Goodall is hoping the coronavirus pandemic will be a wake-up call, warning the crisis is a result of human disregard for nature and animals.

Key points:

  • Dr Jane Goodall, marking 60 years of field research and discovering that chimpanzees make and use tools, says animal habitat loss and intensive farming are part of the viruses jumping species
  • She says as forests disappear, animals come in closer contact with each other and humans
  • Dr Goodall equates the human disregard for nature as also the root cause of climate change

Dr Goodall said we should have known a pandemic-like coronavirus was coming because other viruses, such as SARS and HIV, also jumped the species barrier from animals.


Both SARS and COVID-19 are types of coronavirus
 and have been traced to live animal markets, or wet markets, in China.

But Dr Goodall said the loss of animal habitats and intensive farming are part of the problem, making it easier for viruses to spread from one animal to another and then to humans.

“We have to learn to think differently about how we interact with the natural world,” she said.

And one of the problems is that as more and more forests have disappeared, so animals themselves have come in closer contact with each other.

“Most of these viruses that jumped to us have come through an intermediary. So there’s a reservoir host like a bat and in [the case of COVID-19] it’s thought to have jumped into a pangolin and then into us.”…………

Dr Goodall is marking 60 years since she first entered the jungles of Tanzania at the age of 26, to study chimpanzees.

It was her unorthodox approach of immersing herself in their habitat that led to the discovery in 1960 that chimpanzees make and use tools.

The 86-year-old is also concerned the global chimpanzee population could become infected with COVID-19.

“The genetic makeup between humans and chimps differ by only just over one per cent,” she said…………..

‘Treating climate change like a pandemic’

Dr Goodall said it is the same disregard shown by humans towards nature that is also the root cause of climate change.

“The way we have treated the planet with our reckless burning of fossil fuel and coal mines — you know all about that in Australia, and how it is heating up the planet,” Dr Goodall said…..

She said the global community should have been treating climate change long ago as if it was a pandemic “because it’s actually far more devastating in terms of loss of life and people being driven from countries simply because the habitat is so inhospitable”.

”So why haven’t we been? Why haven’t we been treating climate change as the disaster it is?” Dr Goodall said.

“You only have to look around at some of the political leaders in different countries to understand why. Because people don’t want to think about making the changes necessary because it would impact their success in business.”

But Dr Goodall said there is reason to hope with the way leaders and communities are working together to fight coronavirus — evidence of what humanity is capable of.

Maybe it has taken something like this COVID-19 to wake us up and realise you can’t eat money,” she said.

“If we go on destroying nature in this way, go on disrespecting the other beings whom we share this planet, it’s a downward trajectory.

“So hopefully this [coronavirus response], which is affecting the whole world, will give us the jolt we seem to need to start behaving and thinking in a different way”……  https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-04-11/jane-goodall-says-disregard-for-nature-has-brought-coronavirus/12142246

September 11, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

We must listen to young people on the climate crisis as-they will inherit the earth if theres anything left of it

Here in Scotland 50 young activists from across the country have joined
forces to create an official COP26 Youth Climate Programme. The initiative
has been designed to equip other young Scots with the knowledge, skills and
confidence to engage with proceedings at the conference. With Scottish
Government support, it will see youngsters from all backgrounds and regions
come together to take part in tailored training schemes.

 Scotsman 10th Sept 2021

https://www.scotsman.com/news/environment/cop26-we-must-listen-to-young-people-on-the-climate-crisis-as-they-will-inherit-the-earth-if-theres-anything-left-of-it-ilona-amos-3377825

September 11, 2021 Posted by | climate change, UK | Leave a comment

Planned UK-Australia trade deal – a dangerous precedent for climate change policy

 Green groups and opposition MPs have responded angrily to news the UK
government has agreed to drop binding climate targets from the planned
UK-Australia trade deal, accusing Ministers of “a massive betrayal of our
country and our planet”.

Greenpeace’s John Sauven offered a withering
assessment of the government’s decision, warning that it set a dangerous
precedent for future trade deals with other carbon intensive nations. “It
will be a race to the bottom, impacting on clean tech sectors and farmers’
livelihoods. There should be a moratorium on trade deals with countries
like Australia until they improve on their weak climate targets and end
deforestation. At the moment the public and parliament are being duped by
the Prime Minister into thinking this deal is great for Britain when in
reality nothing could be further from the truth.”

 Business Green 9th Sept 2021

https://www.businessgreen.com/news/4036860/uk-australia-trade-deal-anger-grows-decision-water-climate-pledges

September 11, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, business and costs, climate change, politics international, UK | Leave a comment

COP26 – the need to scrutinise hidden climate agendas

there may be a need to recognize the short comings of some of the technical fixes being promoted, for example, by some ‘net zero’ enthusiasts. The NGOs can perhaps help here.  For example, Oxfam has produced a useful report, ‘Tightening the Net’, which claims that using land-based techniques alone to remove CO2 from the air and help the world reach net zero by 2050 would require at least 1.6 billion hectares of new forests. That is equivalent to 5 times the size of India, or more than all the farmland on the planet.

The charity’s report, says governments and companies are hiding behind a smokescreen of ‘unreliable, unproven & unrealistic carbon removal’ schemes, so as to ‘continue dirty business-as-usual activities’. 

COP26 Agendas  https://renewextraweekly.blogspot.com/2021/09/with-intergovernmental-panel-on-climate.html?showComment=1630897750625#c4129514770472857573  September 04, 2021 With the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) having produced a new very grim report on climate issues, all eyes are now focused on COP 26, the 26th meeting of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention of Climate Change to be held in Glasgow in November. COP 26 has the obvious formal agenda of continuing with the negotiation process over climate policy, developing on the outline COP21 Paris agreement in terms of national and global emission targets and aid funding. There is a lot to do, with many key countries still dragging their feet and the main focus will be trying to improve on that. 

However, there are also underlying policy agendas reflecting different views as to how best to cut carbon, and they may shape what goes on and what is seen as important.  Most are backed by specific groups or interests. Most familiar, there are the vested fossil fuel interests- global/local oil, coal & gas companies. Some in the past backed climate change denial, but most are now in defensive mode, seeking to limit damage to their profits/portfolios. Carbon Capture & Storage (CCS) is their fall back option as part of a ‘net zero’ carbon offset concession, with 2050 targets presumably being seen as far enough off to be survivable.

At the other end of the spectrum there are the various green NGO’s, all keen on maximum carbon cuts as soon as possible. Most back renewables as the main plank, along with energy saving and a commitment to reduced energy demand- and even perhaps reduced economic growth. Most greens oppose fossil CCS, but some do back biomass CCS as a negative carbon option. Very few however like nuclear, which, as ever, is trying to get in the act despite its generally poor showing compared with renewables. But you’ll find nuclear lobbyist hard at it, always, for good or ill, keeping the nuclear debate alive – even if nuclear PR displays were apparently blocked from access to the Green Zone at COP26!

Hydrogen has meantime become a new area offering angles for all sides. The fossil lobby looks to allegedly low-carbon blue hydrogen (from fossil gas SMR with CCS), an option that seems increasing challenged.  The greens look to zero carbon green hydrogen via electrolysis (using power from renewables), and costs do seem to be falling, while the nuclear lobby (both fission and later fusion) hopes it can also get in on the hydrogen act. That seems a long shot. Especially since there is also a strong showing from the electricity lobby, which wants to see heat pumps used, not hydrogen gas – and certainly not fossil gas!

Some underlying issues

Lobby groups certainly do keep it all alive.  Although the fossil and nuclear industry lobby groups are familiar enough, there is less of an obvious renewables industry lobby, apart from some trade associations. The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) doesn’t get involved much direct campaigning. So it’s often left to political pressure groups and NGOs, and their interests transcend energy policy and spread across the whole of field of eco-sustainability. 

 The renewables v nuclear/ CCS issue has already been noted, and the role of hydrogen. However, there are also issues relating to scale and distribution. Most greens would prefer energy to be generated and used locally at the smaller scale. That can be aided by PV solar, but, even with storage, there may still be a need for top-ups and balancing from outside.  That means grids, and some actually see grids as a key thing, with low-loss supergrids allowing for power trading long-distance. ……………

Transport is also obviously a key area. The standard green argument is that flying is very bad, but actually, it is only making a small contribution to CO2 at present- about 2% globally. Cars are vastly worse (they use 45% of global energy) and many more people drive than fly. But, longer-term, flying demand will build up vastly, unless blocked. ………….

What can we expect from COP26? 

It will be interesting to see how the various technical fixes & social fixes issues are dealt with in Glasgow. It’s only a week, and that may mostly be taken up with haggling on targets and dodging invoices for aid!  But some of the wider issues and social fix options may get an airing. The world is changing, and though issues like meat eating are still on the fringe, wider issue are emerging, with Scotland often being a pioneer.   More immediately, Scotland is now getting almost all its power from from renewables, so that technical fix may be an inspiration to many people. . Though perhaps a bit peevishly, Greta Thunberg was not that impressed with Scotland’s progress. However, there may be a need to recognize the short comings of some of the technical fixes being promoted, for example, by some ‘net zero’ enthusiasts. The NGOs can perhaps help here.  For example, Oxfam has produced a useful report, ‘Tightening the Net’, which claims that using land-based techniques alone to remove CO2 from the air and help the world reach net zero by 2050 would require at least 1.6 billion hectares of new forests. That is equivalent to 5 times the size of India, or more than all the farmland on the planet. The charity’s report, says governments and companies are hiding behind a smokescreen of ‘unreliable, unproven & unrealistic carbon removal’ schemes, so as to ‘continue dirty business-as-usual activities’. 

Well, CCS and the like may not be the main reason, but it certainly is worrying that growth in renewable capacity had slowed in the UK. The latest DUKES statistics indicate a year-by-year fall in new capacity added since 2015, with just a 1GW expansion last year, half of that being for offshore wind. The slow down is arguably mainly due the demise of the Feed in Tariff and the block to CfD access for onshore wind and large PV. That may be reversed in the next CfD round, due to be opened up for bids in December. Let’s hope so, otherwise we could have the odd spectacle of the UK promoting renewables hard at COP26 while its own efforts have been diminishing. 

September 6, 2021 Posted by | 2 WORLD, business and costs, climate change, secrets,lies and civil liberties, spinbuster | 2 Comments