The PM now believes that climate change is ‘the single biggest long-term problem we face’ and that the world needs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 60 per cent. His response is to re-open the nuclear power debate, rather unwisely mentioning US lobbying on the matter. Such lobbying is bound to get up people’s noses. ‘What’s the world’s biggest polluter and barrier to global cooperation got to teach anyone?’, they’ll say.
Yet there’s something inevitable about the nuclear element of this debate and it’s not the US that’s to blame, but an army of little people. Over in Cambridge local people have engaged the help of no lesser figure than David Bellamy, the saintly TV botanist, to stop a wind farm that could deliver 37 per cent of the district’s domestic electricity. (Not as impressive as it sounds as business use is far higher than domestic and not every district will have space for a wind farm.) They’re not alone. Everywhere a wind farm is proposed an army of local environmentalists emerge and shout, ‘Not in my backyard!’. And if the NIMBYs don’t win outright, they’ll ensure many years of delay. And that’s the story for all renewables.
So this is where nuclear comes in. It’s an off-the-shelf solution that can replace fossil fuels relatively quickly and with a crisis looming, that’s the road we’ll go down.