By Gavin Atkins
Australia’s Prime Minister, Julia Gillard has finally announced that she will be pushing to lift the ban on uranium exports to India at the upcoming Labor Party conference.
There is an excellent chance her proposal will be passed on the back of the dominant Right factions of the Labor Party – and it’s also completely predictable that the lunar Left will oppose it.
While Gillard has only used economics and trade as the reasoning to lift the ban, there are actually some perfectly good humanitarian reasons why Australia should export uranium to India.
First of all, is this:
More than half the world’s population — about 3 billion people — cook their meals with wood, dung, coal and other solid fuels over open fires or on primitive stoves inside their homes, and that simple act is killing 1.5 million people every year, according to a report by the World Health Organization.
Cooking with solid fuels on open fires or traditional stoves creates high levels of indoor air pollution, which is a major risk factor for pneumonia among children and chronic respiratory disease among adults.
Forget climate change, the most imminent threat to lives in India right now is a lack of cheap electricity.
Members of the ALP’s Left probably don’t care about impoverished Indian women dying of lung cancer from indoor air pollution. However, they might be swayed by arguments about carbon dioxide emissions.
Every tonne of mined uranium used for fuel in place of coal saves the emission of 40,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide.
This could be very significant in India where its coal-fired power capacity is expected to treble in the next 11 years, increasing its carbon emissions by 955 million tonnes a year – considerably more than Australia’s entire Co2 emissions.
So if Australia was smart, we might even be able to turn this saving into carbon credits. By the way, I’ve written about this before, over here.