Friday, 11 September 2020

Shining lights on nuclear's carbon contribution

Letter submitted to The Daily Telegraph: Your curiously named columnist Zion Lights (“Why I left Extinction Rebellion to campaign for nuclear power,” Daily Telegraph, 10 September 2020) displays all the zeal of a recent convert to a new cause in her article extolling why she now backs nuclear power She claims she saw her own light when tough TV interviewer Andrew Neil (who has bamboozled many an experience politician) put her on the spot when as a spokeswoman for climate campaigners Extinction Rebellion (XR), she was confronted with some inconvenient scientific facts. She also claims to have been a student at Reading University, but while there clearly did not learn the tools to help her how to interpret and comprehend complex issues. Nuclear power will not provide any useful dent in curbing harmful emissions, as when the carbon footprint of its full uranium ‘fuel chain’ is considered- from uranium mining, milling, enrichment ( which is highly energy intensive), fuel fabrication, irradiation, radioactive waste conditioning, storage, packaging to final disposal – nuclear CO2 emissions are between 10 to 18 times greater than those from renewable energy technologies , according to a recent study by Mark Jacobson, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford University, California. ( New nuclear is also too expensive for private investors (as Dr Paul Dorfman explained in the recent article in Daily Telegraph business on 3 September) too environmentally risky for communities and too unpopular with the public for politicians to back it I recommend Ms Lights reads an important new report collectively issued by six Parliamentary committees on 10 September, titled “The path to net zero”, prepared by a group of scientifically selected representative British citizens named the ‘Climate Assembly’ ( There she will discover that this Assembly concluded after over six months detailed collaborative work that 46% of participants strongly disagreed nuclear could play a part towards reaching a net zero carbon economy by 2050, with a further 18% undecided. Amongst the reasons for the scepticism were “cost, safety, and issues around waste storage and decommissioning.” Ms Lights will discover there is a significant range of empirical evidence supporting these concerns.

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