UK nuclear power stations ‘could be forced to close’ after Brexit

Leaving Euratom treaty will shut down nuclear industry if international safety agreements are not made in time, MPs told

Nuclear power stations would be forced to shut down if a new measures are not in place when Britain quits a European atomic power treaty in 2019, an expert has warned.

Rupert Cowen, a senior nuclear energy lawyer at Prospect Law, told MPs on Tuesday that leaving the Euratom treaty as the government has promised could see trade in nuclear fuel grind to a halt.

The UK government has said it will exit Euratom when article 50 is triggered. The treaty promotes cooperation and research into nuclear power, and uniform safety standards.

Unlike other arrangements, if we dont get this right, business stops. There will be no trade. If we cant arrive at safeguards and other principles that allow compliance [with international nuclear standards] to be demonstrated, no nuclear trade will be able to continue.

Asked by the chair of the Commons business, energy and industrial strategy select committee if that would see reactors switching off, he said: Ultimately, when their fuels runs out, yes. Cowen said that in his view there was no legal requirement for the UK to leave Euratom because of Brexit: Its a political issue, not a legal issue.

The UK nuclear industry would be crippled if new nuclear cooperation deals are not agreed within two years, a former government adviser told the committee.

Euratom explainer

There is a plethora of international agreements that would have to be struck that almost mirror those in place with Euratom, before we moved not just material but intellectual property, services, anything in the nuclear sector. We would be crippled without other things in place, said Dame Sue Ion, chair of the Nuclear Innovation and Research Advisory Board, which was established by the government in 2013.

She said movement of the industrys best intellectual talent was made easier by the UKs membership of Euratom.

The government said it was working on alternative arrangements to Euratom. Describing the notification of withdrawal as a regrettable necessity when article 50 is triggered, energy minister Jesse Norman said that the UK saw clear routes outside of Euratom to address issues such as the trade of nuclear materials.

We take this extremely seriously and are devoting serious resources [to looking at new arrangements], he told the Lords science and technology committee on Tuesday.

Tom Greatrex, chief executive of the Nuclear Industry Association, said there was a lot to be done to put in place transitional measures replacing Euratom.

What were collectively warning about is the potential for there to be a very hard two-year period during which there are lots of other things the government has to deal with, that could leave it in a position where some of these things arent in place, he said. Greatrex said one possible option was an associate membership of Euratom.

Over the weekend, the GMB union called on ministers to reconsider their foolhardy rush to leave the treaty, claiming it could endanger the UKs entire nuclear future.

But the Office for Nuclear Regulation argued there could even be be some positives to leaving Euratom, such as a reduction in bureaucracy. If we relinquish Euratom there would be reduced burden from not having to comply with directives, said David Senior, an ONR executive.

Norman also promised a decision was due soon on the next stage of a delayed multimillion-pound government competition for mini nuclear reactors, known as small modular reactors. I love the projects and ideas but I want to be shown the value, he told the peers.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/feb/28/british-nuclear-power-stations-could-be-forced-to-close-after-brexit

Air pollution masks fashion’s next statement?

Face masks are already a common sight in Asia. Now, as air pollution worsens, designers are targeting city dwellers in Europe and the US with pricier products

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2017/feb/14/air-pollution-masks-fashions-next-statement-kanye

Are you at risk? How pollution increases your chance of death interactive

Greenpeace has calculated the increased risk of death at varying levels of air pollution in 3,000 cities around the world by combining risk analysis from the IHMEs Global Burden of Disease project with annual average background levels of fine particulate matter (PM2.5s) from the WHO

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/cities/ng-interactive/2017/feb/14/are-you-at-risk-how-pollution-increases-your-chance-of-death-interactive

The world’s most unloved, underappreciated wildlife in pictures

Do you like pangolins or silky sharks? How about the black-legged kittiwake? Vote for your favourite in the Wildscreen Arkives Valentines Day campaign to help protect underappreciated species from poaching and climate change

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/gallery/2017/feb/10/the-worlds-most-unloved-underappreciated-wildlife-in-pictures

Final phase of Dakota Access pipeline to be approved, a major blow to Standing Rock Sioux

The army corps of engineers says it intends to grant a permit for the oil pipeline to cross the Missouri river, following Donald Trumps executive order

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/feb/07/dakota-access-pipeline-approved-standing-rock-sioux

Final phase of Dakota Access pipeline to be approved, a major blow to Standing Rock Sioux

The army corps of engineers says it intends to grant a permit for the oil pipeline to cross the Missouri river, following Donald Trumps executive order

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/feb/07/dakota-access-pipeline-approved-standing-rock-sioux

Is the Swedish deputy PM trolling Trump with this all-female photo?

Isabella Lovin signs bill surrounded by women colleagues, apparently a reference photos of Trump signing bills surrounded by men

Swedens deputy prime minister, Isabella Lvin, has published a photograph of herself signing a climate bill surrounded by her closest female colleagues, apparently mocking a photo of US president Donald Trump.

Lvin, who also serves as environment and development aid minister, is seated in the photo at a desk as she signs the bill under the watchful eye of seven female colleagues, including one who is visibly pregnant.

Isabella Lvin (@IsabellaLovin)

Just signed referral of Swedish #climate law, binding all future governments to net zero emissions by 2045. For a safer and better future. pic.twitter.com/OqOO2y8BU6

February 3, 2017

The picture seems to be a reference to a series of photos of Donald Trump signing executive orders, including the reintroduction of the global gag rule, which were widely mocked.

The pictures were taken of Donald Trump on 23 January in the White House, as he signed a decree barring US federal funding for foreign NGOs that support abortion, as his all-male colleagues looked on.

Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris)

This group just made it more difficult for women to get access to health care worldwide. You tell me what’s wrong with this picture. pic.twitter.com/8UQFWg8qO3

January 23, 2017

Sweden, a pioneer in womens rights, is known for its high level of women in the workplace, including in parliament and government.

We are a feminist government, which shows in this photo. Ultimately it is up to the observer to interpret the photo, Lvin said.

The climate bill she is signing in the photo aims to make Sweden carbon neutral by 2045 and marks a new era in Swedish climate politics, Lvin wrote.

There is a global demand for climate leadership. I want to show that Sweden is ready to take that leadership, she added.

Sweden has criticised the Trump administrations approach to climate policy as it announced legislation binding future governments to a goal of phasing out greenhouse gas emissions by 2045, among the most ambitious by any developed nation.

Lvin urged European countries to take a leading role in tackling climate change, now the US is not there anymore to lead.

Seven of eight political parties all but the far-right Sweden Democrats agreed to pass a binding law obliging future governments to set tougher goals to cut fossil fuel use every four years. The law will come into force from 1 January 2018.

Swedens goal would demand at least an 85% cut in domestic greenhouse gas emissions by 2045 from 1990 levels, the government said. Remaining emissions would be offset, for instance by planting forests that soak up carbon as they grow or by investments abroad.

The European Union as a whole has set a target of an 80-95% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

2045 is a good year, Lvin said of the target for reaching zero net emissions, adding: I personally believe we could get there even earlier.

Among EU nations, she said, Britain, Denmark and Finland have also passed climate laws meant to make long-term policies less easily overturned and to give more certainty to investors.

By contrast, Trump has called climate change a hoax and wants to bolster the domestic coal and fossil fuel industries. He has threatened to pull out of a 2015 Paris agreement on climate change but also said he has an open mind.

Lvin said Sweden wanted to set an example at a time when climate sceptics [are] really gaining power in the world again, and felt encouraged by pledges by China and India to fulfil their commitments to the Paris Agreement.

China is investing billions and billions of dollars in solar its a game changer, she said, warning that those that are still wanting to invest in fossil fuels will be ultimately the losers.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/feb/03/sweden-criticises-us-climate-stance-as-it-reveals-ambitious-carbon-emissions-law