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

Development permit issued for four-storey apartment on Dogwood Street

Proposed 63-unit building will include water conservation measures

Mark Chandler running for City of Parksville councillor

Chandler will focus on affordable housing, fiscal responsibility, economic growth and crime

New data gives insight into Parksville Qualicum Beach-area homeless community

42 without homes agree to take survey on gender, age, health, length of time in community

Parksville singer to celebrate birthday with concert

Robbie Van looking to raise money for Haven Society

Mt. Washington season passholders to be the first to receive the new tech in-hand

The new hands-free tech will be in full effect for winter 2018-19

VIDEO: Tour de Rock rider says event provides badly needed support

Cancer survivor and volunteer firefighter Nicole Emery speaks about importance of fundraising tour

Rattie scores 3 as Oilers blank Canucks 6-0

Vancouver slips to 1-5 in exhibition play

Veterans Affairs ordered to take second look before supporting vets’ relatives

Liberal government ordered officials to adopt a more critical eye

Dead B.C. motorcyclist was member of group that raced down mountain road

Some group members record their rides on Strathcona Parkway and post times to page

Indigenous athletes in spotlight at BC Sports Hall of Fame

New gallery to feature Carey Price, Kaila Mussel and Richard Peter

B.C. couple who went missing on flight from Edmonton named by family

Family released a statement Wednesday saying they’re still intent on finding the two-seater plane

VIDEO: A close look at what you were breathing during the B.C. wildfire season

Electron microscope images show soot and tar particles generated by worst B.C. fire season

Island man calls 911 after being robbed of his drugs

Nineteen-year-old and 15-year-old suspects face multiple charges following robbery Monday in Nanaimo

B.C. woman donates $250,000 to ovarian cancer research for friends

Two of Patty Pitts’s friends passed away from the disease within a year

Most Read