Climate SOS: Net Zero Reception

SERA - Labour's Environment Campaign with sustainability hub

LOCATION The Dome Room, Hotel du Vin, Ship St, Brighton, BN1 1AD (A four minute walk from the conference centre)
DATE Monday 23 September
TIME 19:45 to 21:15

Refreshments provided

*This event takes place outside the secure zone, and is therefore accessible to all, including those without a conference pass*

*TO RSVP FOR THIS EVENT, SIGN-UP FOR FREE VIA EVENTBRITE HERE*

SPEAKERS

  • CHAIR - Alex Sobel MP, SERA's Parliamentary Network lead
  • Danielle Rowley MP, Shadow Minister for Climate Justice & Green Jobs
  • Karen Potter, sustainability hub
  • Cllr Tom Hayes, Oxford City Council's environment leads

Join SERA and the Sustainability Hub for an evening reception to hear Labour's plans to transform the economy to achieve net zero carbon emissions and take on the climate and environment emergency over wine and canapes. We will hear from one of Labour's newest and most exciting shadow ministers; Danielle Rowley, Shadow Minister for Climate Justice and Green Jobs. 

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  • John Draper
    commented 2019-09-21 09:40:09 +0100
    As a member of the XR Science Group and Labour SERA, the easiest way to get to net zero (other than reforesting the entire planet, which should probably also be done) is to leverage the UK’s already leading role in fusion energy and to accelerate the arrival of fusion using Global South and petrostate sovereign wealth funds, i.e., new money, invested in the UK fusion ecosystem. So, Labour should back this global Call:

    Call for a High-Level IAEA Global Commission on Urgent Action for Fusion Energy by the End of 2020
    (This Call is for an independent IAEA global commission along the lines of the newly established global high-level Commission for Urgent Action on Energy Efficiency, due to deliver recommendations by mid-2020 – https://www.iea.org/newsroom/news/2019/july/iea-unveils-global-high-level-commission-for-urgent-action-on-energy-efficiency.html).
    It should be noted that any one UN member state could trigger the mandate necessary for the IAEA to implement the Commission approach, presumably after consulting its contacts in, for example, the Gulf Cooperation Council and OPEC. One way for the proposed Commission on Urgent Action for Fusion Energy to act would be to seek to develop a ‘Montreal Protocol’-style convention for global co-development of nuclear fusion energy through accelerating public and private-sector ‘DEMO’ projects.

    1. Multiple converging public and private-sector timelines (e.g., the Chinese CFETR, TAE Technologies, Commonwealth Systems and Tokamak Energy ) suggest that a ten-year timetable to a prototype ‘burning plasma’ ‘hot’ fusion energy reactor appears feasible–but only if fully funded such that continuous development engineering operations are possible. Because of fusion’s implications for lower greenhouse gas emissions, less air pollution in cities, and less dependence on energy imports, there is now an overarching need to create an independent global commission to accelerate the development and commercialization of nuclear fusion, in terms of policy recommendations in areas such as funding regime, global regulation, socioeconomic development, and geopolitical management, through interfacing with the United Nations.
    2. Establishing such a Commission is a natural role for the IAEA. In particular, the IAEA, as an autonomous agency reporting to the UN, has a present dire need to conduct detailed socioeconomic analysis of how much is being spent on fusion, which pathways may be most feasible, how much additional expenditure may be needed, and what form(s) of innovation ecosystems may be required globally to fund nuclear fusion development and commercialization to benefit the UN’s existing mandates to manage climate change, provide energy for all, and maintain global peace and order.
    3. The development and rapid commercialization of fusion has the potential to be disruptive in terms of existing primary energy supplies. The commercialization of fusion will have immediate socioeconomic impacts on coal-producing nations, such as China, India, the United States, Australia, Indonesia, and Russia, as well as less severe effects on oil-producing countries. The Commission would create policies to manage these issues in line with basic market principles, development economics and aspirational goals for humanity.
    4. Fusion can meet the aims of development of ‘Energy for All’ (UN Sustainable Development Goal 7) and ‘reducing inequality by nation’ (UN Sustainable Development Goal 10), both required for growing a future market for fusion and in accordance with UN mandates. Basic market principles for an innovative industry require the development of the demand side, i.e., growing a customer base, including education in the nature of the product. When viewed through the lens of innovation economics, this requires raising appreciation of the merits of fusion in academia, the public sector, the private sector, civil society and the media, and the Global South (represented at the UN by the G77 bloc of 134 nations, and China).
    5. Conditional or even unconditional aid to the Global South via mechanisms such as the Green Climate Fund of the Paris Agreement are not ideal from a business or development perspective and can be viewed as neo-colonial in nature. Unless carefully tailored, aid tends to be temporary, unsuited or disruptive to local market conditions, and in any case can create a dependency that could be viewed by the Global South as ‘neo-colonial’ in nature. Furthermore, the Green Climate Fund is massively underfunded and does not have the money to fund the transition to fusion. The Commission therefore must develop concrete policies and recommendations for funding regimes, involving existing mechanisms like the World Bank or Asian Development Bank, or new mechanisms such as special purpose vehicles; it cannot rely on aid or the ‘goodwill’ of the Paris Agreement.
    6. Instead of aid, the Commission should emphasize the development of an awareness and understanding of nuclear fusion by the Global South funding itself, followed by innovative Global South co-development of fusion. The Global South, defined as the G77, includes extremely wealthy oil producing nations (‘banker nations’) who have a vested interest in diversifying their economies and maintaining internal stability and international relations with the global East, West, and other members of the Global South while transitioning to a fusion and renewables energy mix. Many of these countries, like Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE, possess large sovereign wealth funds. Thus, the Global South could invest in the co-development of nuclear fusion. This could occur via the investment of several billions of dollars per year (on average) over a decade, in exchange for financial rewards such as bonds or shares in companies, realizable via the Green Climate Fund (which would therefore fund the Green Climate Fund), with banker nations receiving special incentives.
    7. Investment by G77 banker nations in fusion would first require knowledge sharing. Realistic scenario planning should be employed, with costings based on full LCA and socioeconomic modelling linked with transparent timelines with milestones. One model that the Commission could investigate is a) the IAEA provides oversight and ensures independent assessment of public sector fusion programmes and private sector fusion companies (henceforth ‘projects’); b) the nation states which are home to the projects’ public sectors, which in the US would be the DOE, DOD, and the DOS, vet projects, protect strategic interests, and green light projects for G77 investment, with equivalent public sector structures performing the same missions in other nations with fusion projects; c) the projects themselves provide as much information as possible while compartmentalizing knowledge and fire walling core Intellectual Property (IP) as appropriate; and d) on the Global South side, a G77 scientific appraisal consortium (an existing mechanism for technology employed by the G77) in the form of a ‘Fusion Task Force’ is set up to monitor progress and publicly disseminate technical progress reports.
    8. The membership of the G77 Fusion Task Force would likely be merit based, i.e., some representatives would already be highly innovative countries with national fusion labs. However, it should also represent regional and developmental interests. For instance, on these bases, the Fusion Task Force could consist of Brazil, South Africa, the UAE, Singapore, and Kazakhstan, as well as representatives of less developed nations, the emphasis being on the reporting of technological progress to other G77 nation states on a bloc basis in an accurate and timely fashion so as to minimize geopolitical issues.
    9. The ultimate objectives of the Commission are accelerating the arrival of fusion energy and rapidly deploying it while building global peace and stability through growing global prosperity. Injecting fusion into the energy mix provides a ubiquitous energy source which will be mass produced and co-manufactured in different countries, preserving or revitalizing manufacturing bases, the IPR for which will be more likely to be respected because it will be guaranteed by the participation of the Global South in co-development and overseen by the IAEA and the UN, including with the participation of relevant agencies, such as the World Trade Organization and the World Intellectual Property Organization. In geopolitical terms, such a course of action would avoid ‘New Cold War’ or ‘Hot War’ ‘traps’, i.e., the ‘Churchill Trap’ (new Iron curtain falling across the world) or ‘Thucydides Trap’ (war between declining and rising hegemonies). The Commission would seek to ensure complex geopolitical tensions over energy security may be reduced.
    10. Working towards these goals has already started. Support for a Commission by the IAEA and UN member nations, and especially by the permanent members of the UN Security Council and the Group of 77, should be encouraged.

    Short Bibliography
    Clery, Daniel. 2013. A Piece of the Sun: The Quest for Fusion Energy. London: Overlook Duckworth.
    Department of Energy. 2018. Transformative Enabling Capabilities for Efficient Advance toward Fusion Energy, 2018. Washington: Office of Science, Department of Energy, https://drive.google.com/file/d/18D3Wak19lEve1zcPCL6ie3_vCPKTofcf/view?usp=sharing
    Draper, John. 2019. “Accelerating the Arrival of Fusion Energy within a Quintuple Helix Innovation Ecosystem to Address Climate Change”. SocArXiv. https://doi.org/10.31235/osf.io/axb95.
    Draper, John. 2019. “Fusion Energy for Peace Building – A Trinity Test-level Critical Juncture.” SocArXiv. https://doi:10.31235/osf.io/mrzua.
    National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2018. Final Report of the Committee on a Strategic Plan for U.S. Burning Plasma Research, 2018. Washington: The National Academies Press, https://www.nap.edu/catalog/25331/final-report-of-the-committee-on-a-strategic-plan-for-us-burning-plasma-research.