Premier Christy Clark is flanked by Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner (left)

B.C. climate battle could go nuclear

Premier Christy Clark compared Burnaby prototype fusion reactor to "flux capacitor" from Back to the Future

Premier Christy Clark revealed some unexpected allies when she unveiled her “climate leadership team” to go beyond a carbon tax in reducing B.C.’s greenhouse gas emissions.

In addition to mayors, climate experts, aboriginal leaders, representatives of the natural gas and forest industries and environmental activists surrounding Clark at an announcement last week, red-coated scientists gathered in front of a strange machine with radiating steel arms.

It’s a prototype of a nuclear reactor being built in Burnaby by General Fusion, backed by venture capital funds including those run by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and the Malaysian government.

Conventional reactors use nuclear fission, in which large molecules of radioactive material are broken apart to produce heat. Fusion reactors attempt to compress hydrogen atoms to create a helium atom, releasing enormous energy in the process that powers the Sun and other stars.

Even after a tour of General Fusion, Clark wasn’t anxious to describe the project. She laughed off a question by comparing it to the “flux capacitor” used for time travel in the Michael J. Fox movie Back to the Future.

Nuclear fusion has been a holy grail of clean energy for decades. Stable, efficient fusion reactors would revolutionize energy production, upending the economics of coal, oil and natural gas-powered electricity.

General Fusion has competitors, none bigger than a 34-country collaboration called the ITER project, under construction in southern France. That machine covers an area equivalent to 60 football fields, with the same goal of re-creating the reaction at the core of the Sun.

General Fusion chief scientist Michel Laberge described his project in a recent TED Talk, comparing his design with ITER and other efforts. “We are almost there,” he said.

B.C.’s climate leadership team is to make recommendations by the end of November on how to advance the province’s greenhouse gas reduction goals. The team includes:

• Academic – Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions executive director Tom Pedersen, SFU public policy professor Nancy Olewiler, UBC business professor James Tansey

• Communities – Comox Mayor Paul Ives, Burns Lake Mayor Luke Strimbold, Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner

• Business – Council of Forest Industries CEO James Gorman, Columbia Power director Tim Newton, BC LNG Alliance president David Keane

• Environment – Clean Energy Canada executive director Merran Smith, Pembina Institute regional director Matt Horne, Tzeporah Berman, formerly of Greenpeace International

• First Nations – Squamish First Nation Chief Ian Campbell, Ulkatcho First Nation Chief Zach Parker, Cayoose Creek Indian Band Chief Michelle Edwards

Brief bios of members are here.

Just Posted

Katzie paddled together in honour of a fallen family member

More than 30 members of the Katzie First Nation reserve took part in the canoeing event

Money in to finish Lougheed Highway twinning

$29 million to complete four laning of four-kilometre stretch in Maple Ridge, but no start date

Campers expect 100 per cent online reservations at Golden Ears next season

Maple Ridge group has been fighting to keep drive in bookings

Maple Ridge council will be asked to declare climate emergency

Vancouver, London and Los Angeles have already done so

Rich the Vegan scoots across Canada for the animals

Rich Adams is riding his push scooter across Canada to bring awareness to the dog meat trade in Asia

Body, burning truck found near northern B.C. town

RCMP unsure if the two separate discoveries are related

Former Fernie Ghostrider re-signs with Vancouver Canucks

Josh Teves has signed a two-year contract with the NHL team

Couple found dead along northern B.C. highway in double homicide

Woman from the U.S. and man from Australia found dead near Liard Hot Springs

UPDATE: West Kelowna fawn euthanized, not claimed by sanctuary

Gilbert the deer has been euthanized after a suitable home was not found in time

BC Wildfire Service warns wet weather no reason to be complacent

Fire risk currently low for much of B.C. compared to same time over last two years.

Bank of Canada lowers qualifying rate used in mortgage stress tests

Home sales softened last year after the federal government introduced new stress test rules for uninsured mortgages

Most Read