Second week begins in COP22 with intense activity and dedicated to Education Day in Monday.
One of our first stops was the South Korean Pavilion. A book publication captured our attention, the title? “One Less Nuclear Power Plant, Phase 2”
We sat down in the sparsely populated audience and started to listen to the presentation, a discussion of all the necessary steps to maybe, just maybe be able to replace all of one nuclear plant’s reliable carbon free generation. The crux? All renewable and efficiency ducks would have to be in a row, and a large buy-in consumers to cut back on consumption were the only way to do it without raising emissions.
Finally, the question and answer session began, our turn: “This is a question about looking at the evidence. In Germany, they’ve spent over $150 billion building out renewables just to see their emissions remain flat, and their electricity 10 times dirtier than France. In the US, we lost 5 reactors to cheap fracked gas and renewables mandates. This amount of emissions free power was the equivalent of our entire solar generation last year. So knowing all that, my question is– If we’re really concerned about climate change, why are would we ever shut down our greatest source of clean energy? And shouldn’t we be a bit more pragmatic in our decision making when considering what’s at stake?”
That was a lot for a translator to communicate back to the presenter, and I’m doubtful she got it all. Her reply doubled down on the necessity for massive community buy in to reduce consumption before undertaking a nuclear plant closure.
Eric reply back: “The community really determines what happens, doesn’t it? And I would suggest that the community was taught to fear nuclear power absent fact, and now it is the responsibility of everyone in the room and everyone that makes decisions about energy in Korea to be informing the public and making decisions based on fact, not fear.”
The Lesotho delegation that was sitting in front of us turned around and gave us thumbs up and smile. After a bit of networking, and unexpectedly receiving a gift from one of the booth workers (a handkerchief with dinosaurs and ferns printed on it– fossil fuels?) Nathan and Eric walked out to see this cute seal and give it some love.
I couldn’t help but think while hugging this seal that if the South Korean government is successful in shutting down that nuclear plant and if it is replaced with mostly fossil fuels (like every other nuclear abandonment has been), it will speed the process of ocean acidification. This oceanic chemistry experiment is expected to cause plankton to fail within the next 50-80 years, starving every cute cuddly animal in the ocean.
Save the Seals!
Later on, the EU hosted an Energy Day at their pavilion today, including a session on how cities can contribute to sustainable development and reduce emissions. Leaders have joined in a Covenant of Mayors group in Europe and Africa. The goals are mainly revolved around electrifying transportation, increasing building efficiency and reducing emissions from energy production. The first two goals are very much able to be tackled on the city level, however, reducing emissions is much more difficult on centralized electric grids. We posed this question to the French Covenant of Mayors – how could they further reduce emissions when the national French grid is already quite carbon-free, with significant use of nuclear energy? While the answer was in French, and no translation was provided, we did catch that cities plan to develop a local grid with renewables and that the French government plan to phase out nuclear energy in an indefinite future time. While France has decided to diversify their energy mix, the significant use of nuclear power in the country will not go away.
In the session “Mission Innovation, Accelerating the Clean Energy Revolution” (see http://www.mission-innovation.net/) few key speakers outlined the future directions of respective countries. Saudi Arabia remarked their shift from an “oil Economy nation” to an “Energy nation”. Another notable speaker was the US Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz, who commented on the significance of innovation to find the best prospective solutions to fight climate change.
He made reference to “every arrow in the quiver” when questioned about the inclusion of nuclear technologies within the mechanisms to fight climate change.
He further spoke of the technology innovation that is occurring to bring about advancement in the Small Modular Reactors that are even more financially viable than their larger counterparts, thus presenting additional options for investment and infrastructure considerations for new nuclear.
We also carried on the conversation regarding the need for a mix of nuclear with the energy market to the other parts of CoP such as the press conference with German Federal Minister presenting “Klimaschultzplan2050”.
Finally, there was an Announcement for a Luncheon tomorrow Tuesday 15th, by the Director of Royal Protocol on behalf of his Majesty King Mohammed VI of Morocco, but after being redirected back and forth from the Info desk to Coordination, to the Constituency offices, the status of the 1500 invitations for observers and organizations is still unknown …so we’ll make sure we pack wrapped sandwiches again!