Leaders Summit on Climate must call for more investment in all forms of low carbon energy including nuclear

21 April 2021

Tim Yeo.jpg

Tim Yeo


The New Nuclear Watch Institute

President Joe Biden’s invitation to world leaders to join him at a virtual Summit on Climate to mark Earth Day is welcome and timely. After last week’s positive talks in Shanghai between US climate envoy John Kerry and his Chinese counterpart Xie Zhenhua hopes of a joint US/China commitment to faster and bigger emissions reductions are rising.


Pressure is growing on the world’s biggest carbon emitters to act before it is too late. The tipping point after which climate change becomes irreversible is alarmingly close. This November’s COP26 really is the last chance to adopt the policies which can prevent us from reaching it.


Although no magic bullet exists the possibility that America and China may set aside their other differences and work together on climate change could be game changing. It was the agreement reached between President Obama and President Xi in advance of COP21 in 2015 which was the foundation stone for the Paris Accord.


This week’s Leaders Climate Summit can set the right tone by backing measures to make big cuts in GHG emissions. It should mandate Governments and the private sector to cooperate in investing heavily to finance the necessary changes. The post-Covid economic recovery must prioritise the adoption of low carbon business models by every industry and company, large or small, in the world.


President Biden’s published agenda rightly includes “the transition to a new clean energy economy”. This will be accompanied by emphasis on job creation and on ensuring that all communities and workers benefit.


The nuclear energy industry must play a key part in this transition. The world cannot completely replace fossil fuels by improving energy efficiency and expanding renewables alone.


Nuclear has long been recognized as a reliable, efficient, and affordable supplier of low carbon baseload electricity. No advanced economy can survive without this supply. This recognition has just been strengthened by a ringing endorsement for nuclear power from a new quarter.


The Joint Research Centre of the European Commission, the body at the heart of the EU whose Single Market is the third largest economy in the world, this month confirmed that the latest nuclear reactors have lower accident fatality rates than all electricity generation technologies.


Its analysis also stated that there is no scientific evidence that nuclear harms human health more than the other electricity production technologies such as renewables which are accepted by the EU as sustainable activities.


In focusing on how GHG emissions can be cut the Leaders Summit on Climate must call for more investment in all forms of low carbon energy including nuclear alongside renewables and hydrogen.