Every COP begins with a small degree of scepticism.
For many critics, COP28 in Dubai was yet another UN talkfest, beginning with worldwide media coverage, conspicuous in its largesse, likely to fizzle out in disagreement and a sense of futility.
Adding fuel to the scepticism was the fact that year’s host nation, the United Arab Emirates, a member of OPEC, and one of the world’s biggest petrostates.
And this was the 28th COP since its inception in Berlin in 1995, and global emissions have never been higher than they are today.
But those who disregarded the Dubai COP risked missing something important – indeed there is good reason to think that the most recent climate talks might yet be the most consequential in the quest for net zero.
That’s because, in the words of Coalition energy spokesperson Ted O’Brien, COP28 was quickly becoming known as the “nuclear COP”.
For proponents of nuclear, an emissions-free, reliable and cheap source of energy, the re-education of the world on the benefits of this technology has been a long and arduous process.
It’s been made ever more difficult by the hysteria and disinformation propagated by organisations such as the Australian Greens.
The symbol of the nuclear COP was the signing of an international pledge, which committed to trebling the supply of nuclear energy by 2050.
The signatories to the pledge are among Australia’s closest allies, and include the US, the UK, Japan, and France.
It should have been fantastic news for Australia.
We’re already the world’s third biggest supplier of uranium and, on most estimates, still have more than any other country on earth beneath our feet.
We’re a responsible international citizen and believe in reducing our carbon footprint.
And while the world, as it stands, is not on track to meet the 1.5C limit established by the Paris Agreement, the international community is beginning to realise that nuclear energy could well be the solution.
There are already 440 nuclear reactors across the globe, supplying 10 per cent of the world’s electricity.
In 2022, nuclear energy was the biggest source of non-emitting electricity in the OECD.
In the UAE, myself and a number of Coalition colleagues were lucky enough to visit the impressive Barakah nuclear power plant.
Standing on what was previously a large swath of sand, there are now four nuclear reactors that supply 25 per cent of the country’s electricity.
But most importantly, embracing nuclear could provide a path through the increasingly dark and confusing woods that is the Labor Government’s energy policy.
Labor has talked a big game on energy, from “Rewiring the Nation”, “Powering the Nation” or, – wait for it – “Driving the Nation”.
They’ve also dedicated about $25 billion to these dubious projects in the most recent Budget.
Power prices have risen more than 25 per cent in some east coast States in a year, record numbers of West Australians are on hardship plans to pay their energy bills, and frustrated farmers are discovering they don’t want their properties laden with thousands of kilometres of new transmission lines.
Just this week, Sydney residents were told to avoid using essential appliances in order to avoid a blackout.
All the while, Australia’s dependence on coal and gas, which still provides more than two-thirds of the country’s energy, remains relatively unchanged.
Labor’s ideological fixation with wind, solar, and hydro, at the expense of any other technology, is harming Australian households and businesses, for little to no overall environmental benefit.
The wider economy is beginning to sit up and take notice of this unsatisfactory state of affairs.
Big business, which we discovered this year Labor has a soft spot for when it comes to public relations opportunities, is now beginning to embrace nuclear.
This week, 70 of Australia’s most senior chief executives called for less ideology and more pragmatism in Australia’s energy transition.
Like Ted O’Brien and the Coalition, they called for all technology options to be on the table, including nuclear.
My message to Labor is that there is no shame in changing your position when the facts change.
And the facts, overwhelmingly, show that developing countries that are serious about tackling emissions without harming their economy, are running towards nuclear energy.