Stormont MLAs ignore a form of net zero energy yet back an extreme climate bill

News Letter editorial of Tuesday January 18 2022:

By Editorial
Tuesday, 18th January 2022, 12:16 am
Updated Tuesday, 18th January 2022, 12:36 am
News Letter editorial
News Letter editorial

There is a very interesting letter opposite (in the print edition, or in this web version see link below) about a topic that is barely discussed at Stormont — whether or not Northern Ireland should have nuclear power.

The very idea of such a form of energy production is off the agenda at the assembly.

There, as in the Republic of Ireland, there is a sanctimony about the cross-party opposition to nuclear power.

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However, this political consensus puts the island of Ireland behind most of the rest of the developed world, where nuclear is a key part of the energy mix.

Indeed it is a form of energy that ought to have come of age, given the great concern that there is about climate change. After all, nuclear is net zero when it comes to emissions — it produces no carbon.

Therefore nuclear ought to be at the forefront of our energy planning, alongside renewables such as solar, wind, hydro and bioenergy.

Yet you would never have any notion that nuclear has any merits at all if you were to listen to our MLAs.

Instead, in one of the increasingly common Stormont flights from reality, a majority of the very same assembly that will barely discuss nuclear power is backing a 2050 target for net zero emissions.

The chair of the UK Climate Change Committee Lord Debden has said that this is not feasible and in its unreality risks undermining the overall thrust towards slashing emissions.

Edwin Poots has, as is appropriate for a minister whose portfolios include agriculture and the environment, emerged as one of the most important critics of the net zero plan.

It is not as if Mr Poots is rejecting the general direction of travel. Indeed his own proposal is for an 82% emission cut.

But net zero will wreak havoc with farming.

Why does Stormont keep doing this? Endorsing proposals that sound morally good but in fact come with huge cost — typically to be paid for by someone else.

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