Question 5: How would you address the twin challenges of peak oil and climate change? Would the solution include nuclear?
No nuclear! For energy we need to focus most on energy conservation and demand reduction, then on developing renewable sources. For the post-oil world, see localism Q4.
The Green Party has spent decades fine-tuning its climate and sustainability policies and I feel well equipped to promote them effectively. Our position on nuclear is that even if it were safe and cost-effective, which it isn’t, it’s still neither carbon-neutral nor renewable, and anyway it would take too long to build enough new stations to reduce emissions fast enough. That’s why we have Green Party energy policy!
Massive funding for Research and Development is urgently required both to maximise the energy we harness from renewable technologies, and to bring on technologies which would minimise the energy we use.
Most people don't want to see the problem, because they feel powerless. A compulsory course in the Politics of Food, Climate Change and the Citizen's Responsibility would enable understanding and informed individual action.
For me the solution would not include nuclear in its present form. Eg, little work has been done to promote the safer Thorium reactors. It is not the fissile/fission process which we are against, it is the radioactive waste cycle, safety concerns, and weapons grade outputs.
New figures suggest that we dare not burn more than 20% of the fossil fuels that have already been discovered. We are beyond serious concerns regarding peak oil. We need rapid investments now to decarbonise our future. Nuclear is dirty, dangerous and expensive and right now it is a serious distraction from effective action.
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The big companies think that our energy problems, including peak oil, can be solved using extreme methods of extraction such as tar sands and fracking. Climate change effects can no longer be ignored. We have to face the fact we need to reduce our energy consumption and invest in alternatives. Investment in nuclear is not the answer. We need clean renewable energy.
Going nuclear would not be something I would consider in tackling these problems. A substantial cultural shift is needed in reducing consumption and we need to campaign heavily to make this attractive to the public. The savings from this alone would serve to make the transition to green energy generation more manageable in the very limited time we have remaining.
We need to fundamentally change and relocalise our economy; from food to transport, housing to energy. Energy efficiency measures and renewables can replace fossil fuels, but investment is required now.
Nuclear is not the solution; until the waste can be dealt with, an intractable problem in my opinion, it's not even worth debating the many other problems around safety and economics.
We don't need to include nuclear power. Reducing energy demand through proper insulation, stricter building regulations and investing in renewable energy has to be the way ahead. Oil has many uses besides fuel and we must look at alternative low carbon methods of providing for society's needs.