March 2, 2024

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At the UN Climate Change Conference (COP28), more than 20 countries pledged to triple nuclear capacity

At the UN Climate Change Conference (COP28), more than 20 countries pledged to triple nuclear capacity

The United States and 21 other countries pledged Saturday at the United Nations climate summit in Dubai to triple nuclear power capacity by 2050, saying a revival of nuclear power is critical to cutting carbon emissions to near zero in the coming decades.

Supporters of nuclear power, which provides 18 percent of America’s electricity, say it is a clean, safe and reliable complement to wind and solar power. But there is a big hurdle: financing.

Last month, a developer of small nuclear reactors in Idaho said it had canceled a project that was expected to be part of a new wave of power plants. The cost of building the reactors rose to $9.3 billion from $5.3 billion due to increased interest rates and inflation.

Britain, Canada, France, Ghana, South Korea, Sweden and the United Arab Emirates were among the 22 countries I signed the ad To triple capacity from 2020 levels.

Tripling nuclear power capacity by 2050, which would also help Europe reduce its dependence on Russian oil and gas, will require significant investment. In advanced economies, which hold nearly 70% of global nuclear capacity, investment has stalled as construction costs have risen, gone over budget and faced delays. Beyond cost, another obstacle to expanding nuclear capacity is that building plants is slower than many other forms of energy.

Addressing the issue of financing, John Kerry, President Biden’s climate envoy, said there were “trillions of dollars” available that could be used to invest in nuclear energy. “We’re not making the argument to anyone that this is definitely going to be the blanket replacement for every other source of energy — no, that’s not what got us here,” he said. But he added that science had shown that “you can’t get to net zero in 2050 without some nuclear weapons.”

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Nuclear energy does not emit carbon, and IEA report last year He said nuclear energy is critical to help reduce carbon emissions in line with the Paris Agreement goals set in 2015.

French President Emmanuel Macron said nuclear energy, including small modular reactors, is an “indispensable solution” for efforts to limit climate change. France, the largest nuclear energy producer in Europe, obtains about 70 percent of its electricity needs from nuclear plants.

Macron and other leaders, including Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson, called on the World Bank and international financial institutions to help finance nuclear projects. Mr Christerson said governments must “take a role in sharing financial risks to enhance conditions and provide additional incentives for investments in nuclear energy”.

While world leaders on Saturday described nuclear energy as the most effective alternative to fossil fuels, some climate activists said nuclear energy is not a magic solution.

David Tong, a researcher at Oil Change International, said the pledge is disconnected from the reality of nuclear power — it is too expensive and too slow. “It is a self-serving political pledge that does not reflect the role that nuclear power is likely to play in the energy transition, which is a menial role,” he said. “There is very little growth in nuclear power – certainly nothing like a three-fold increase.”

He said he rejected the position that there was no way to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, the target set in the Paris Agreement to avoid the worst effects of global warming, without using nuclear energy. Masayoshi Iyoda, an activist from Japan at 350.org, an international campaign for climate action, cited the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011 and said nuclear power was a dangerous distraction from decarbonization goals. “It is simply too expensive, too risky, too undemocratic, and too time-consuming,” he said in a statement.

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“We already have cheaper, safer, more democratic and faster solutions to the climate crisis, which are renewable energy and energy efficiency,” Mr Iwuda said.

The IEA said that all but four of the 31 reactors that began construction since 2017 were designed by Russia or China, with China poised to become a major producer of nuclear power by 2030. This year, Germany closed its last three nuclear plants.

Nuclear capacity rose in the 1980s, especially in Europe and North America, but declined sharply over the following years after two accidents at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania in 1979 and Chernobyl in 1986. Since then, new technology and more regulations have been implemented Strictness.

Americans are conflicted about nuclear power, but more of them favor expansion than they did a few years ago, according to A Pew Research Center A study published in August.