Law Reform: Climate Action and Nuclear Energy

The Case Against Small Modular Reactors in Canada

A new form of energy technology is being touted as being the ‘solution’ to climate change. Known as small modular reactors (SMR), this proposed nuclear technology, is intended for use in remote, off-grid communities to replace diesel reliance and to power resource extraction projects. CELA opposes this new nuclear technology.

The United Nations has warned we have just 10 years to get climate change and our emissions under control. This 10-year window is missed if we invest in a technology that will not have a demonstration reactor ready until into the 2030s. SMR technology provides too little, too late, with too many risks.

Instead of investing in SMRS, Canada should support renewable generation technologies which are socially acceptable, cost effective and scalable now. See also Casework: Small Modular Reactor at Chalk River.

A joint presentation from Beyond Nuclear, the Coalition for Responsible Energy Development in New Brunswick, and the Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA). This October 21, 2020 webinar features presentations by CELA staff lawyer, Kerrie Blaise; Dr. Edwin Lyman of the Union of Concerned Scientists; Prof. M.V. Ramana of the University of British Columbia.


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CELA joins public interest organizations from across Canada in opposing the development, and federal funding of, SMRs. These proposed nuclear reactors are a dangerous distraction that delay real climate action. SMRs are also more expensive and will create fewer jobs than renewable energy. Moreover, CELA is very concerned that current gaps in Canadian nuclear laws will allow most SMRs to escape review under federal environmental assessment legislation.