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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Local doctor cautions Revelstokians as skatepark reopens

Dr. Bret Batchelor reminds people the pandemic is not yet over

$30,000 over 30 weeks for local causes

Send us your good stories and you could win money for your favourite cause

Revelstoke elementary students write poetry about coronavirus

‘You wish you were free like a black bear’

Tap Truck Okanagan launches as first location in Canada

The business is built on a restored 1957 Chevy panel van and ready to serve craft beer on tap, wine or cider

Trudeau offers $14B to provinces for anti-COVID-19 efforts through rest of year

Making a difference in municipalities is a pricey proposition

Friends, family mourn Salt Spring Island woman killed in suspected murder-suicide

A GoFundMe comapaign has been launched for Jennifer Quesnel’s three sons

‘I’m pissed, I’m outraged’: Federal minister calls out police violence against Indigenous people

Indigenous Minister Marc Miller spoke on recent incidents, including fatal shooting of a B.C. woman

Indigenous families say their loved ones’ deaths in custody are part of pattern

Nora Martin joins other Indigenous families in calling for a significant shift in policing

‘Alarmed’: Health critic calls for more data on COVID-19 in trucking industry

Saskatchewan, Ontario and Quebec said that level of detail is not being collected

UPDATED: Pair accused of ‘horrific’ assault at Vancouver’s Oppenheimer Park arrested

Police say Jason Tapp, 30, and Nicole Edwards, 33, did not show up to meet their bail supervisor this week

Crews building structure at former Summerland train station site

West Summerland Station will pay tribute to railway history, serve as trail marker

Kelowna Mountie who punched suspect identified, condemned by sister

‘How did he get away with this? How is this justifiable?’

Most Read