Nuclear power: a harmful distraction to climate change? Webinar recording

On Monday 13 May Labour CND hosted a nuclear power webinar with Sam Mason, principle author of Labour CND’s pamphlet Labour, Climate Change, and Nuclear power – Not Cheap, Not Safe, Not Peaceful. We also had contributions from Linda Clarke on the construction side of the industry and Dr Phil Johnstone on the links between civilian and defence nuclear projects.

You can catch up with a recording of the webinar below.

To address climate change, we need peace

In her latest blog, Samantha Mason addresses issues from the King’s speech on the opening of parliament.

taken a back seat as we’ve watched the horror of events unfolding in Gaza and mobilised around the call for a ceasefire and peace.  However, as climate campaigners have pointed out, including in a letter to Ed Miliband, fighting for the “cause of freedom and dignity for the Palestinian people” is not separate from the colonial violence and dispossession which is also at the heart of the climate crisis.

There’s no bigger action for climate change
than achieving peace for Gaza

The impacts of climate change continue apace as 2023 is likely to be declared the warmest on record. The UN Secretary General’s call for the world to end the madness of the fossil fuel age which is driving don’t seem to have reached the ears of the UK government who is forging ahead with the issuing of new oil and gas licences in the North Sea.

The  oil and gas bill announced in the King’s Speech follows Rishi Sunak’s statement in September pledging a “pragmatic, proportionate and realistic approach to reaching net zero“. This also included the removal of energy efficiency standards for private landlords, condemning renters to totally avoidable high energy bills – a point well made by the UK Green Building Council and Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

Of course, this is all part of the new ‘Uxbridge’ narrative of the government being ‘on the side of car drivers’ pushing-back on a number of measures including targets to ban the sale of petrol and diesel cars. Unfortunately, the science of climate change doesn’t care about political posturing and the only reality here is that we cannot put off until tomorrow what we should be doing today.

Any new oil and gas in the North Sea won’t benefit
UK energy consumers because we
don’t own it

Likewise, financial and health burdens will also certainly not be ‘eased’ for people as a result. Any new oil and gas produced in the North Sea will not be to the benefit of UK energy consumers as we don’t own it. It is therefore false to say it will help bring down bills – a point the new Secretary of State for DESNZ Clair Coutinho has finally conceded.

There are undoubtedly costs in transitioning to a decarbonised economy and these should not be falling on workers in terms of jobs, pay and other terms and conditions, or hard-pressed communities. These costs should be ‘proportionately’ distributed and socialised by ending the greed of fossil fuel corporation profits and bringing all energy assets back into public ownership. Not least when we see the renewables sector trying to fashion itself on a fossil fuel ‘for profit’ business model.

A crisis in the offshore wind industry, not just impacting the UK but in Europe and the US as well, has seen the main offshore wind farm developers pulling back from bidding in government auctions.  Big players such as Ørsted and Vattenfall have also pulled out of projects due to issues of “profitability” as inflation and higher interest rates have increased costs.

And the idea that nuclear power will be an answer to the energy and climate crisis is also starting to wobble (unsurprisingly) on financial grounds.  The ‘poster child’ for small modular reactors (SMRs), NuScale in the US, has ended a major project on basis of costs defeating one of the primary arguments for SMRs that they can be built more quickly and cheaply.  Indeed, many technological fixes being proposed for tackling climate change such as Carbon Capture and Storage and Direct Airsource Capture are proving to be the false solutions many climate campaigners have always argued.

The idea that nuclear power is an answer to
climate change
is starting to wobble

It is clear that climate change will be one of the battle grounds in the next general election and this should not be allowed to turn into binary choices of cars over clean air or arbitrary fiscal rules. Right now, we need a coherent long-term plan that aligns reducing greenhouse gas emissions with addressing the energy, health, and cost of living crises all of which are inter-connected. Similarly, the plan needs to recognise the need for global cooperation and climate justice. This should be seen as an opportunity for the Labour Party to provide a real alternative to Tory climate and environmental policies that will continue to cause long-term harm to us all.

At the end of November, the global climate talks – COP28 – will take place in Dubai. There is little faith in these talking shops that fail to address the fossil fuels in the room and on 9 December there will be a Global Day of Action with mass demonstrations planned across the globe. In the UK these are being coordinated by the Climate Justice Coalition.  

People everywhere have risen up for Gaza and it’s possible, sadly, we may yet be coordinating joint actions that day.  Whether this is the case or not, one thing is clear, there is no bigger action for climate change than achieving peace for Gaza, or other areas of the world suffering conflicts, and it must remain an integral part of our climate demands.

Why Labour must oppose nuclear power

To order a hard copy of the pamphlet, email and we will get back to you.

Alternatively you can download a PDF by purchasing below, you will be redirected to a download page.

July 2023 was the hottest on record This year has been a story of extreme and record-breaking weather:

    • heatwaves throughout southern Europe
    • fires and pollution in North America
    • record-breaking winter heatwaves in South America
    • the warmest winter ever in Australia
    • record high temperatures and rainfall in Asia
    • severe droughts in the Middle East and Africa

Despite calls for world leaders to step up action on climate change, greenhouse gas emissions continue to rise while politicians here and elsewhere bicker over climate and energy policy.

Some see the inclusion of low-carbon nuclear power as a quick fix.  Labour CND’s pamphlet, which will be launched at Labour Party conference in Liverpool, explains why the idea that nuclear power can come to the rescue is a false and dangerous mistake.

In the face of the two biggest threats to humanity – climate change and nuclear war – Sam Mason makes a powerful case against nuclear power and explains why the Labour Party must oppose it.

Labour, Climate Change & Nuclear Power
available at conference from the CND stand price £3, or
order a copy from labourcnd@gmail

Putting nuclear behind us

Helensborough CND’s conference considers the links between nuclear weapons and civil nuclear power. Labour CND committee member Rae Street is among the speakers, contributing on CND’s No to Nuclear Power campaign. Register now to hear an impressive list of specialists including Beyond Nuclear founder Linda Pentz Gunter and Arthur West, Scottish CND’s Trade Union Network and conference chair.

No Need For Nuclear

Labour CND recently participated in the conference No Need For Nuclear: The Renewables Are Here, which took place at Conway Hall, London, on 17th June 2017. Below are two short videos, which include presentations by Dr Carl Clowes, Public Health Wales, and Kelvin Hopkins, Labour MP for Luton North. 

Welcome Session
Dr Ian Fairlie, Dr Carl Clowes, Caroline Lucas, Kate Hudson.

Can Labour change its policy on nuclear new build?
Kelvin Hopkins MP