Why does Ottawa’s ‘Green Bond’ program exclude nuclear power, one of the cleanest of all energy sources?

The federal budget recognizes the urgent need to fight climate change and includes new positive incentives for clean energy development.

But nuclear power, workers and management alike are raising serious questions about the budget’s failure to exclude the sector from the right to apply for funding under the $5 billion Green Bond. Government Framework (GBF).

As a background, let’s look at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s enthusiastic pledges at the global meeting in Paris in 2015.

Trudeau promised the government, as Harper had done before him, to cut Canada’s gas emissions by 30 percent by 2030 from 2005 levels, and to draft a pan-Canadian framework for climate change within 90 days of the conference’s end. to enter. †

However, it was not until August 2017 that the pan-Canadian framework was released by Canada for provincial and territorial consideration. After consultation, it was adopted and signed by the provinces and territories except Saskatchewan and Manitoba on December 6, 2017.

Last month, the federal government released a separate framework, the Green Bond Framework (GBF). “Green bonds” are essentially interest-bearing loans from the government, available to applicants who can convince the government that borrowed funds will be used to support objectives within the government’s announced policies.

The controversial and as yet unexplained feature of this Canadian FCP is the exclusion of “nuclear energy” from potential recipients of funds.

Bob Walker, National Director of the Canadian Worker’s Nuclear Council, has correctly written in his opposition to the omission of nuclear energy: “Nuclear energy is clean, safe and affordable. Last year, the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) determined that nuclear power has one of the lowest life-cycle carbon footprints of any technology of any generation. Nuclear power has been at the heart of the continent’s most successful CO2 reduction initiative, closing Ontario’s coal-fired power plants and switching to zero-emission nuclear power.”

John Gorman, president and CEO of the Canadian Nuclear Association, said the exclusion of the nuclear industry while extending the cost of capital allowance to other non-carbon-emitting technologies was done without any consultation with the nuclear industry.

He added: “Canada has lost another incredible opportunity to show global leadership here by excluding the nuclear industry from the Green Bond Framework. It’s very disappointing.”

Canada’s Environment and Climate Change Minister Stephen Guilbeault, who is claimed by some to be a long-time anti-nuclear activist, has not helped explain this potential elimination of nuclear financing.

Chris Keefer, president of Canadians for Nuclear Energy, stated after futile communication with the Guilbeault Department: “… excluding an evidence-based climate solution such as nuclear power is quite extraordinary.”

My experience, both in public service in the ministries of labor and commerce and technology and as an employment law expert in the private sector, has led to significant access to the nuclear power industry – as has my more recent work as a past president of the Radiation Safety Institute or Canada.

I am very impressed by the sector’s activities, both in uranium mining and in the highly complex construction and operation of nuclear reactors. According to the most recently published figures, about 96% of Ontario’s electricity is produced from non-emission sources: 60 percent from nuclear, 26 percent from hydropower, four percent from wind and two percent from solar energy.

At present, nuclear mining, refining and fuel manufacturing are all limited, in whole or in part, to Ontario, New Brunswick and Saskatchewan. In all these operations there is certainly an urgent need for national expansion. Also, those hired, whether new or expanding existing operations, require the very best in safety training.

If our fossil fuel extraction and related activities are being gradually reduced, in line with government policy, why would the government deny one of the most important clean operational successors – nuclear power – access to possible private and/or public investment from this $US fund? 5 billion?

So where is Trudeau? He was questioned in Victoria on Monday about nuclear power issues. His answer: “Nuclear energy is still on the table. We are here to invest in a range of pathways so that we can ensure that we are not only protecting the planet, but also creating a secure and growing economy for years to come.”

My worries? There’s been a lot on that table for a long time.

Tim Armstrong is a former provincial deputy secretary in the Davis, Peterson and Rae administrations.

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