Seventy-eight Public Interest Groups are calling on Canada’s biggest banks to drop investments in nuclear power, including so-called Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) from their fossil-free and ESG* investment portfolios. A letter sent to the banks emphasizes that nuclear power is not a responsible or ethical investment.
Nuclear Not Responsible or Ethical
The banks are all members of the Net Zero Banking Alliance, committing them to “transition … GHG emissions from their lending and investment portfolios to align with pathways to net-zero by 2050 or sooner”.
In a letter sent to the banks this week, groups from across the country contend that investments in SMRs will divert critical funds away from the already proven, safe and economical alternative energy sources essential for Canada to meet our pledge to reduce carbon emissions by 40 to 45% by 2030.
The letter went to RBC, and Canada’s other big banks: TD, BMO, CIBC, Scotiabank and National Bank. The letter warns that:
Investing in more nuclear reactors is a bad and unethical business decision which will be perceived negatively by the public across Canada. Pursuing nuclear developments will hinder Canada’s ability to deeply reduce emissions in the time frame required by the Paris Accord, by diverting critical resources away from more beneficial modalities of electrical energy generation.
Investments would be more profitably allocated to widespread deployment of available renewable technologies, and to proven efforts to enhance the efficiency of the energy used in buildings, industrial infrastructure and transportation. According to the International Energy Agency, renewables are set to account for almost 95 % of the increase in global power capacity through 2026. Support also must go to the development of smart grid infrastructure whereby renewable energy itself, with suitable storage, can satisfy baseload power needs.
“Nuclear investments pose huge risks for both private and public investors” says Prof. M.V. Ramana, Simons Chair in Disarmament, Global and Human Security at the University of British Columbia.“None of the Small Modular Reactors proposed for construction in Canada have ever been built, and their specific accident risks are yet to be studied adequately. They are still at the theoretical design stage and constructing them in significant numbers will take a lot longer than 2030”.
“Canadians should look closely at their investment portfolios” says Ann McAllister of the Coalition for Responsible Energy Development in New Brunswick. “People may not realize that mutual funds, pensions, stocks, bonds and TFSAs can support nuclear companies, including SMR start ups masquerading as “green” investments”.
Economist Jack Gibbons, Chair of the Ontario Clean Air Alliance notes “We have cleaner, safer, faster and much lower cost options to keep our lights on. The smart money is on renewable options. They will be providing almost 95% of the world’s new electricity supply over the next 5 years at dramatically lower costs than SMRs.”
Jean-Pierre Finet, energy analyst for the Regroupement des organismes environnementaux en énergie (ROEÉ) in Quebec said “Considering the enormous potential for improved energy efficiency and low-cost renewable energy production, there is absolutely no reason to consider nuclear power in our energy portfolios.”
In their letter, the groups stress the power of banks and private investors to help avert climate catastrophe by investing in the best and fastest possible options for emissions reductions. Nuclear does not meet that requirement and in fact, will hinder it, because of the opportunity cost. Bank CEOs have been asked to respond to the letter.
We therefore respectfully request that RBC immediately terminate any existing plans to provide financing for SMNRs and commit to excluding nuclear development from its responsible investment portfolios.
*ESG refers to Environment, Social, Governance criteria increasingly used as standards to guide Responsible Investing
This post has been sourced from an email circulated by Gordon Edwards—a Canadian scientist and nuclear expert—which includes the media release and links to the letter from Canadian banks.
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