Over the last few years, there has been a growing interest in a Green New Deal and there are many versions proposed in different countries. At the same time, there has also been criticism of these proposals on many counts, including the fact that they typically don’t include nuclear energy. This criticism misses a basic point: a Green New Deal is, by its very definition, much more than an emissions reduction plan. As we argue below, the other attributes that characterize Green New Deals, rule out nuclear energy as an option. Like the original New Deal of U.S. president Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1930s, all Green New Deal proposals emphasize the creation of new jobs. Canada’s New Democratic Party version, for example, calls for “a New Deal for Climate Action and Good Jobs.” Nuclear power is not a good job creator. One widely cited study found that for each gigawatt-hour of electricity generated, solar energy leads to six times as many jobs as nuclear power. This is compounded by the fact that solar power plants are far cheaper to build and maintain than nuclear reactors. Green New Deal proposals also demand rapid emissions reduction; one spokesperson for the Pact for a Green New Deal talked of “a 50 per cent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.” It takes, on average, a decade to build a nuclear plant and another 10 years before that to do the necessary planning, license procurement, and, most importantly, obtain the billions of dollars needed to finance construction. Therefore, it is impossible to scale up nuclear power fast enough to reduce emissions at the rate required to meet tight climate targets.
Beyond Nuclear 23rd Aug 2020 read more »