Nuclear Politics

Europe / Nuclear Industry Welcomes Emissions Agreement, Says Reactors Must Be Part Of Energy Transition

By David Dalton
22 April 2021

Policies needs to follow the science, says head of Brussels-based Foratom
Nuclear Industry Welcomes Emissions Agreement, Says Reactors Must Be Part Of Energy Transition
The nuclear energy industry has welcomed the EU’s provisional agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 55% in 2030, calling it a move that shows the bloc is “at least on paper, serious about tackling climate change”.

“Reducing CO2 emissions is essential if the EU is to meet its commitments under the Paris agreement, and this climate law is a step in the right direction”, said Yves Desbazeille, director-general of the Brussels-based industry association Foratom.

“What is very clear is that the EU needs to ensure that its policies follow the science and treat all low-carbon technologies equally. Indeed, these revised targets are more ambitious than before and cannot be achieved without the long-term operation of existing nuclear power plants.”

The EU agreement comes ahead of a virtual gathering of dozens of world leaders in a climate summit called by Joe Biden, which begins on Thursday. The goal of Mr Biden’s leaders’ summit on climate is to increase greenhouse gas reduction actions.

In a joint statement with other industry groups, Foratom said to meet the urgency and the magnitude of climate challenge “we must take a realistic, science-based approach that addresses all sectors”. It said the world will need to generate many times more clean energy than today. “To achieve this will require that we use every low-carbon technology at our disposal. Nuclear power must be one of those technologies.”

The statement said nuclear has a proven track record, is reliable, cost-effective and can be used to provide process heat for industry, to desalinise water, produce green hydrogen, and to create synthetic low-carbon fuels as well as to generate power. Scalable new designs mean that any country, large or small, can deploy nuclear power, irrespective of their natural resources.

Foratom said that in the medium term, the early closure of the existing nuclear fleet would be catastrophic and lead to a significant increase in power sector CO2 emissions in the short term. If current nuclear policies are not reviewed they will also jeopardise security of supply in many EU countries.

After 14 hours of intensive negotiations, representatives of the EU’s member states and parliament emerged on Wednesday morning to announce a deal in principle on cuts and the establishment of a new independent body of scientists to monitor the policy.

The development, said by the European commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, to “put the EU on a green path for a generation”, envisages a reduction of at least 55% in net greenhouse gas emissions by 2030, compared with 1990 levels, and zero net emissions by 2050. The 2030 reduction target had previously been set at 40%.

Meanwhile, the US vowed to cut its  emissions by at least half by the end of the decade, in a ramping up of ambition aimed at rallying other countries to do more to confront the climate crisis.

Ahead of the virtual climate summit, the White House said the US will aim to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by between 50% and 52% by 2030, based on 2005 levels.

Earlier this week, the commission announced that it will include nuclear power in the EU’s sustainable finance taxonomy under a complimentary delegated act that will confirm the energy source is as sustainable. The commission also confirmed, however, that nuclear energy’s status is subject to the opinions of two further expert groups.

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