COP28: 22 countries, including UAE, launch Declaration to triple nuclear energy capacity by 2050

French President Emmanuel Macron addressing the World Climate Action Summit at the UN COP28 climate conference at Expo City Dubai on Saturday
Image Credit: AP

Dubai: More than 20 countries from four continents, including the UAE and the United States, on Saturday launched a declaration to triple their nuclear energy capacities to drive down emissions.

The Declaration was made during the second day of the World Climate Action Summit at the UN COP28 climate conference at Expo City Dubai.

According to the US Department of Energy, the declaration recognies the critical role of nuclear energy in achieving global net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and keeping the 1.5C goal within reach.

US climate envoy John Kerry and French President Emmanuel Macron pushed for the development of nuclear energy — which does not produce greenhouse gas emissions, even if it presents security and waste challenges.

“I want here to reiterate the fact that nuclear energy is a clean energy, and it should be repeated,” said Macron, whose country gets around two-thirds of its electricity from nuclear power, the most of any industrialised country, and exports some of it to France’s neighbours. “Nuclear energy is back.”

The declaration did not specify how much money should be set aside but urged the World Bank and others to “encourage” expanding lending for nuclear projects.

“We have to invest — I’m not saying give away,” said Kerry. “I’m saying invest the trillions of dollars sitting on the sidelines looking for bankable deals but unwilling to move as fast as we need.”

Approvals needed

Global nuclear capacity now stands at 370 gigawatts, with 31 countries running reactors. Tripling that capacity by 2050 would require a significant scaling up in new approvals – and finance.

The UK, Japan, France, Bulgaria, Canada, Czech Republic, Finland, Ghana, Hungary, Republic of Korea, Moldova, Mongolia, Morocco, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Sweden also endorsed the declaration.

Core elements of the declaration include working together to advance a goal of tripling nuclear energy capacity globally by 2050 and inviting international financial institutions’ shareholders to encourage nuclear energy in energy lending policies, said the Department of Energy.

Nations at the COP28 talks are also expected to adopt a goal of tripling renewable energy and doubling energy efficiency by 2030. The European Union first appealed for the new targets earlier this year, and the cause has since been taken up by COP28 hosts the UAE, then the G7 and G20 groups of nations.