If you suddenly lose faith in your stance on climate change and don’t have a Plan B, what do you do? Why, you go nuclear.

Not even two months ago, on the Sunday program of August 20, look at what Resources Minister Ian Macfarlane had to say:

LAURIE OAKES: OK. Climate change, you are a climate change sceptic, aren’t you?

IAN MACFARLANE: Well I am a sceptic of the connection between emissions and climate change…

Yesterday he told the 15th Pacific Basin Nuclear Conference:

In an age where we’re worried about global warming we should be looking seriously at nuclear power as an option, because it’s clean and it doesn’t emit greenhouse gases and I can’t understand why the extreme Greenies oppose it. 

So there you have it, straight from the Minister himself. A problem has come along since August 20. And it’s not just the Minister. The Prime Minister says so too. Have a look at his drought presser from yesterday morning: “Nuclear power is part of the solution to the problem of global warming”. Indeed, have a look at more of that response:

[N]uclear power is part of the solution to the problem of global warming and those who say they’re in favour of doing something about global warming but turn their faces against considering nuclear power are unreal.

It is part of the solution, I’m not saying it’s the only solution, there are many things that are solutions to the challenge of global warming but the reason why I wanted the nuclear option put on the table and examined by Mr Switkowski’s committee is that I believe very strongly that nuclear power is part of the response to global warming, it is clean green, it is something in relation to which many rabid environmentalists have changed their views over recent years.

I look forward to seeing Mr Switkowski’s report, but if you’re really serious about doing something about global warming you have got to look at all of the ramifications of nuclear power and as to when, as I say I’d like a bit more advice on that, but, and I’ll get it, but I guess that will vary a bit from expert and will vary according to the technology and there’s been a tremendous amount of progress in this area and I just think if we’re serious about having a debate about global warming we, particularly as the holder of some of the largest uranium reserves in the world, have got to be willing to consider a nuclear power option.

He talked about the problem again early in Question Time, in an answer to the opposition environment spokesman, Anthony Albanese. “If you are really serious about tackling the problem of global warming, you have got to be serious about looking at the potential contribution of all of the mornenergy sources, including nuclear power,” he said.

However, by the time Ian Macfarlane got around to giving a response on climate change as questions drew to a close, it was just an “issue” again, not a problem.

Which one is it? Well, at least it’s not Ziggy’s problem. It looks as if a decision has already been made.

Peter Fray

Fetch your first 12 weeks for $12

Here at Crikey, we saw a mighty surge in subscribers throughout 2020. Your support has been nothing short of amazing — we couldn’t have got through this year like no other without you, our readers.

If you haven’t joined us yet, fetch your first 12 weeks for $12 and start 2021 with the journalism you need to navigate whatever lies ahead.

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

JOIN NOW