Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Climate and Nuclear to test Rudd and Labor

Some tough decisions coming in the near future related to actions to address concerns about climate change as well as current government's stand on the NPT and Additional Protocols.

First Tim Colebatch filed a report in The Age noting government's tough decisions related to climate change. The report includes some interesting facts, such as arguments of the coal based generators for free emissions permits and why such 'give-aways' would do much more harm than good. Colebatch explains a bit of the obvious - that clean coal is in Australia's [and the world's] best interest. But Colebatch is an economics editor, and, sadly, no matter how much economic sense something may make, there has to be further consideration; such as previous technology performance, current state of development, realistic development horizon and the subsequent overriding risk to any reasonable deployment schedule.

Colebatch also mentions renewables, but fails to go the extra distance and mention their performance as currently deployed in Australia and overseas and how [as in required resources] that performance may be further expanded to address the greater issues of power quality, reliability and availability.

The report is a step in the right direction, but the discussion must be taken further. I am confident those in office are considering all options and agree with Colebatch's main theme - the upcoming decisions will be tough.

Another tough decision lies in government's stand on nuclear non-proliferation. In the Sydney Morning Herald, Anne Davies reports the USA may be asking Australia to provide assurances that it will not block potential nuclear power deals with India.

[T]he Bush Administration is expected to seek a promise from Australia that it will not vote against the Indian agreement in the Nuclear Suppliers' Group, in which it is one of 45 member states.

Given that the Indian Parliament has stalled signing the agreement for internal political reasons, Mr Rudd may stop short of giving a firm undertaking now.
I suspect this would be a particularly touchy subject for government at the moment; particularly if one examines Chapter 5 of the Labor party's National Platform and Constitution, 2007. Specifically, in clause 95 it states:

Labor will work towards:
  • tightening controls over the export of nuclear material and technology;
  • universalising of the IAEA additional protocol making it mandatory for all states and members of the Nuclear Suppliers Group to make adherence to the additional protocol a condition of supply to all their transfers;

Perhaps if someone can convince government to ignore or amend clause 95, some type of similar revision could be considered for clause 97 - just the second bullet only; a simple swap of the word 'prohibit' for 'facilitate'.

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