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A little less politics, a little more physics

“A little less politics, a little more physics. A little less conversation, a little more action”. This quote from Sweden’s Deputy Prime Minister Ebba Busch is a great summary of what now needs to be done if we are serious about achieving net zero by 2050.

On 2 December 2023, Heads of State and Ministers gathered in Dubai during COP28 to pledge a tripling of global nuclear capacity.  It has taken nearly 30 years for nuclear to be brought back to the negotiating table, but with this pledge governments are clear that nuclear is part of the solution.

Below is a summary of just some of the key interventions from this Ministerial event:

  • France: President Emmanuel Macron made clear that nuclear energy is clean energy, adding that it ensures security of supply and thus
    is a perfect compliment to renewables. In his words: “Nuclear energy is back!”.  Complimenting this, the Minister of the Energy Transition Agnes Pannier-Runacher noted that nuclear is a clear substitute for fossil fuels. Hence why France was one of the instigators of this declaration.  As she rightly pointed out, it is the first time governments openly talk about nuclear at COP.
  • Romania: President Klaus Iohannis highlighted the key role which nuclear is expected to play in their energy mix.  As their Minister of Energy Sebastian Burduja notes is great to have a declaration, and we now need to move forward and to convince Europe’s citizens that nuclear is part of the solution.
  • Sweden: Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson made clear that we need to drastically reduce CO2 emissions and that this is going to require the use of fossil free energy sources, including nuclear. Deputy Prime Minister & Minister for Energy, Business and Industry Ebba Busch added that achieving climate targets will require massive electrification (almost a doubling by 2045). Therefore a robust, stable and fossil free electricity system is essential.
  • Poland: President Andrzej Duda indicated that Poland is now on the path to implementing its own nuclear power projects, both large and small.  The Minister for climate and environment, Anna Moskwa underlined the importance of a stable energy mix for both our households and industry. Hence why they support both renewables and nuclear.
  • Czech Republic: Prime Minister Petr Fiala underlined the importance of this declaration in support of nuclear, adding that massive decarbonisation will require a technology neutral market approach and fair funding for R&D.
  • Bulgaria: President Mr. Rumen Radev pointed to the fact that whilst yes, we need renewables, they alone will not be able to meet our massive needs for low carbon energy. This is why nuclear also has its place in the decarbonised energy mix.
  • Hungary: Hungary State secretary for energy and climate Attila Steiner underlined the importance of providing energy for our citizens. Therefore, nuclear is a no regret option.
  • Slovenia: State Secretary Uroš Vajgl, Ministry of the Environment, Climate and Energy, indicated that the country is committed to supporting current and new nuclear infrastructure, with plans to take a final decision regarding the construction of a second reactor by 2027.
  • Slovakia: State Secretary, Ministry of Economy Vladimir Šimoňák stressed the fact that we are facing existential challenge and need to go carbon free – there is no way of achieving this without nuclear.
  • United Kingdom: Secretary of State, Claire Coutinho emphasised the UK’s is commitment to tackling climate change and that nuclear is part of the solution.
  • Ukraine: Deputy Minister of Energy Svitlana Grynchuk highlighted that Ukraine is working to achieve energy independence and strategic autonomy and that they look forward to becoming part of Europe’s nuclear ecosystem.

This event also provided an opportunity for Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo and the IAEA’s Director General Rafael Grossi to announce the organisation of a nuclear summit in Brussels (Belgium) on 22 March 2024. This event will bring together industry and political leaders. It is also the first time that such an event dedicated to the nuclear topic is organised with Heads of States in Brussels. As noted by Prime Minister De Croo “A sound energy strategy today is a balanced strategy – and so we need nuclear as part of the mix” adding that “we need to bring all the support together and put things into practice to accelerate decarbonisation”.

Furthermore, this event also provided an opportunity for a conversation between EDF CEO Luc Rémont & World Nuclear Association DG Sama Bilbao y León at COP28. Check out the full video here!

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