Concerns about investment in “new” nuclear technologies

Petition: 419

Issue(s): Climate change, Other, Science and technology

Petitioner(s): Canadian organization

Petitioner Location(s): Ottawa, Ontario

Date Received: 5 November 2018

Status: Completed—Response(s) to petition received

Summary: The petition asks whether the government will re‑evaluate its investments in “new” nuclear technologies as a result of recent reports on the increased cost‑effectiveness of renewable energy. It cites the October 2018 special report on global warming by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which calls for rapid, far‑reaching transitions in energy production to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The petition asserts that federal investment in early‑stage development of Generation IV or small modular reactor technologies is not a prudent use of funds, given that renewable technologies, such as those based on solar and wind power, are becoming more cost‑effective. It states that renewable technologies are quickly moving toward parity with conventional energy sources in terms of both their price and performance, and that the arguments focusing on their intermittency are becoming irrelevant because of advances in storage technology.

The petition also raises concerns about the amount of time it takes to deploy small modular reactors, in light of the recent IPCC warning that global warming may reach 1.5 °C as early as 2030. In addition, the petition asserts that tying up federal funds in new nuclear technology limits the government’s ability to respond to the IPCC’s call to reduce greenhouse gas emissions rapidly.

The petition states that to reduce Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions effectively, the government should develop a Canadian energy strategy that will provide results such as “greater energy conservation and greater inclusion of clean energy and innovative technologies in Canada’s energy future.” It argues that federal funding for energy efficiency, energy conservation, and energy design, rather than for new nuclear technology, could help accelerate the transition to an affordable and sustainable energy future.

In asking the government to re‑evaluate its funding for Generation IV and small modular reactor technologies in light of this information, the petition requests details on the timing and mechanism of a re‑evaluation or, alternatively, an explanation of a decision not to re‑evaluate the funding. The petition also asks whether the government will consider reallocating the funding for new nuclear technology to renewable technologies.

Federal Departments Responsible for Reply: Environment and Climate Change Canada, Finance Canada, Innovation, Science & Economic Development Canada, Natural Resources Canada