Bloomberg reports on the growing realization in Australia that its ambitious carbon emission reduction goals may be hard to achieve without nuclear energy. Well, those with a horse in the race definitely think so:
“As more and more Australians get involved in the whole climate change debate, as they learn about what’s happening around the world where the uptake of nuclear power is increasing quite strongly, they’ll accept the attraction of nuclear power and over time embrace it,”
So what does the government think?
“We have a very clear view that Australia is blessed with conventional energy resources, as well as renewable energy resources and our focus as a nation should be on developing those technologies in renewable energy,” Wong told reporters in Canberra. “That’s why we have got our renewable energy target, to drive investment in the technologies that increasingly the world will need.” [Wong is Climate Change Minister Penny Wong.]
Right now, the Liberal Party, which indeed is liberal (can’t always tell by name with foreign political parties), is in charge.
There has been some progress:
Australia’s ruling Labor Party dropped its 27-year-old ban on new uranium mines in 2007, while leaving state governments with the power to reject mining proposals. Western Australia state scrapped a six-year ban on uranium mining in 2008. The country is the world’s third-largest uranium producer, according to estimates from the World Nuclear Association.
But a fair number of Australians didn’t care for that move, either. In any event, it’s not nearly the end of the story:
Views inside the Government are divided, with some senior players strongly opposed to nuclear energy now and into the future, reflecting a strong no nuclear stance from the party's grassroots.
But some ministers regard the resumption of the debate as inevitable, given expert advice that nuclear energy is now the only technology capable of delivering low emissions base-load electricity, while "clean coal'' technology is not yet
That “some ministers” comment might have been expanded in the story, but regardless, there is at least a suggestion that as the issue of climate change takes hold in Australia, nuclear energy will become more prominent a part of the conversation just as it has here.
Too Panglossian? Well, maybe, but Mr. Switkowski is right on points and even this much movement in Australia is better than we’re used to. So – maybe – someday – sooner than we would have guessed even last year.
The hydrometalurgical unit at BHP Billiton's Olympic Dam uranium mine in South Australia.