Toronto will heat up in July. Amid the heat and humidity of summer, it will play host to two global events — the Pan-Am Games, and the Climate of the Americas Summit. More people will watch the games than the summit, but the talks may be the more important event.
In mid-June the Ontario government, led by Kathleen Wynne, touted the province’s track record on improving air quality.
Wynne tweeted out, “Ontario is leading the way in clean energy and the fight against climate change.”
It’s a good record. Ontario is the first North American jurisdiction to abandon coal as a source of electricity– an accomplishment made possible through its reliance on affordable, low-carbon nuclear energy. In 2014, nuclear generators delivered 62.7 percent of the electricity carried on Ontario’s grid.
Nuclear’s clean-air contributions were confirmed recently by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
The report states:
The very low CO2 and GHG emissions on a life cycle basis make nuclear power an important technology option in climate change mitigation strategies for many countries. The figures demonstrate that nuclear power, together with hydropower and wind based electricity, remains one of the lowest emitters of GHGs in terms of CO2-(equivalent) per unit of electricity generated.
If anything, Ontario’s nuclear experience offers an excellent case study for the climate-change summiteers. Nuclear energy provides a climate-stabilizing foundation for energy development. Between 2000 and 2013, nuclear power production in Ontario grew 20 percent while coal’s power production shrank.
Today, nuclear energy’s steady, reliable, around-the-clock performance enables Ontario’s experiments with renewable energy sources. If ever storage technologies advance sufficiently, the renewable energy sector may someday match nuclear’s proven grid-scale reliability. Until then, nuclear is Ontario’s best bet – and an excellent example for the summiteers to take home.