US environmental expert — and founder of Environmental Progress — Michael Shellenberger has warned Australia cannot meet its climate change obligations without nuclear energy.
Mr Shellenberger — speaking ahead of his appearance at the 2017 International Mining and Resources Conference in Melbourne later this year — said the idea that Australia could tackle climate change solely through renewables was a fantasy.
“The truth is that renewables are simply not reliable enough to be the primary power source for a modern electricity network,” he said.
“And for all the recent talk of improved battery technology, it is a long, long way from being able to make anything other than a marginal impact.
“Australia is still completely reliant on burning fossil fuels for baseload power and in the short term the only realistic replacement is nuclear.”
Mr Shellenberger said ongoing opposition to nuclear power was grounded more in fear and misinformation than fact.
“There’s been a concerted effort over many years to deceive the public about the safety of nuclear energy,” he said.
“People have been spooked by a handful of high-profile incidents, but the truth is coal is far more harmful than uranium as power source.
“The difference is that coal’s impact is slow, chronic and mostly lacking in the kind of drama that makes headlines.
“But it is an indisputable fact that coal kills thousands upon thousands of people every year.”
Mr Shellenberger said Australia’s large uranium reserves also made nuclear power a very attractive option for the nation’s energy network.
“Australia has far and away the largest reserves of uranium in the world,” he said.
“Australia should be getting close to one hundred percent of its power from nuclear energy – the main reason it’s not is politics.
“There’s a lot of work that needs to be done to engage with the community to explain the realities of modern nuclear power, but it’s a conversation we need to have.”
Michael Shellenberger will be speaking at the IMARC conference in Melbourne from 30 October to 2 November.
Now in its fourth year, IMARC has quickly established itself as Australia’s premier mining and resources conference.
The largest — and the only truly international — resources conference in Australia, this year’s IMARC is expected to see a 20 percent increase in delegates compared to 2016.
Register here to hear Michael Shellenberger speak at IMARC