by Aris Roussinos
Tuesday, 28
September 2021
Debate
07:00

Only nuclear can save us now

It is vital for security and environmental reasons
by Aris Roussinos
The future is nuclear. Credit: Getty

The Left-wing French newspaper Libération marked Merkel’s political passing this week with a cartoon, picturing adults and children in gas masks choked by black clouds of smoke from coal-fired power plants, which accurately critiques her greatest single legacy. In one of her characteristic knee-jerk reactions to media moral panics, Merkel’s shuttering of Germany’s nuclear power plants saw the continent’s industrial giant become ever-more dependent on coal and imported Russian gas, with disastrous consequences for both the environment and EU foreign policy. George Monbiot was accurate enough, back in 2017, in describing her as “the world’s leading eco-vandal,” but the Green tendency he represents is just as bad for leading resistance to the only viable short-term solution: a massive increase in nuclear power generation.

Our own government’s push to open 16 new nuclear power stations by 2050 should be welcomed by green campaigners. As the analyst Anatol Lieven emphasises in his recent book Climate Change and the Nation State, nuclear power is the only viable means of reducing carbon emissions within the narrow timeframe before climate change leads to social and political collapse across the most densely populated portions of the earth — with unimaginable consequences for global civilisation. 

No wonder UN energy experts have advised the EU to increase nuclear power generation as quickly as possible — and no wonder too that European governments are answering their call. As France’s finance minister Bruno le Maire urged recently: “Either we are fighting climate change with an ideological approach and we fail, or we are fighting climate change with a scientific approach and will be successful.”

Welcome too, and long-overdue, is the government’s push to remove China’s state-owned General Nuclear Power Group or CGN from its 20% stake in the new Sizewell C plant: as long as the Chinese state retained even the slightest role in a matter as strategically sensitive as nuclear power generation in southern England, any talk of “confronting China” in the distant Pacific was absurd. 

In this context, as we head into a possible winter of discontent over worldwide power shortages, the anti-nuclear protests of the Scottish separatists and their Green allies should be simply swept away by Westminster’s firm yet benevolent hand. Clean, reliable power generation is a matter of national security as well as economic growth; like foreign policy, it is a decision for central government to make in defence of the interests of the entire nation, and not a matter for a devolved regional administration with a very lacklustre record of competence.

Indeed, that a British government can commit itself to a project so sweeping and transformative after decades of underinvestment in key national industries is a development that should be welcomed across the political spectrum. A Conservative government belatedly returning to the high modernist optimism and vigour of the postwar period is a welcome prospect: Anglomodernism is back, and this time it’s propelling us into a clean, growth-fuelled nuclear future.

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  • Mon Dieu! France, it seems, is truly a master of nuclear power, and the air in France is exceedingly clean. So why did they try to foist old school diesel submarines on those Down Under?
    Nuclear power works. Problems, such as storage/disposal of nuclear waste can be solved, and more coal/fossil fuel is not the answer for many of the reasons posted here. But the left (at the time) concluded that nuclear was bad, end of story. Many navies–perhaps the US leads the way in this–really know how to do nuclear power. There is an untapped reservoir of expertise willing and able to safely run nuclear power plants. Let’s do it!

  • I have always been a fan of nuclear power and I can’t see any logical arguments against it. There are many emotive arguments which start, ‘What happens if….. ‘ but arguments like that exist for everything.

    Perhaps the biggest argument against it is the NIMBY thing. People might support nuclear power as long as it was situated in Lancashire and Yorkshire, well away from the Home Counties.

    We will never go to nuclear power because in our democracy each of the 64 million people has to say something and be heard carefully. By the time all the answers have been collated and considered everyone will have forgotten the question. I would suggest 42 as a good answer.

  • I thought I kept up pretty well with current affairs, but it was a surprise to hear from this article that the government have announced a push to open lots of nuclear power plants by 2050. It would be wonderful if there was such a push, and even more so if it was accompanied by a PR campaign to start to overcome the opposition and its delaying tactics. Nuclear is indeed our only hope of reducing CO2 emissions significantly without economic and social collapse.

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