COP 28: 120 companies worldwide endorse Net Zero Nuclear Industry Pledge

105

The Net Zero Nuclear Industry Pledge, introduced at the United Nations COP28 climate summit in Dubai earlier this month, calls upon governments, multilateral development banks and the World Bank to ensure that nuclear energy receives climate finance equal to other clean energy sources.  

This financial support will enable the nuclear industry to deploy capacity at a worldwide scale, contributing significantly to climate change mitigation. 

An initiative by the World Nuclear Association (WNA) and the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) and supported by the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) Atoms4NetZero Initiative, the Net Zero Nuclear Industry Pledge, endorsed by 120 companies active in over 140 nations worldwide, commits industry to a goal of at least a tripling of nuclear capacity by 2050. 

This followed the Nuclear Ministerial Declaration signed by 22 countries earlier at COP28, making a similar commitment. 

“The more than 100 companies that have endorsed the Net Zero Nuclear Industry Pledge are matching the ambition and pragmatism shown by the governments that signed the Nuclear Ministerial Declaration earlier this week. Working together we can achieve the goal of at least a tripling of nuclear capacity by 2050,” World Nuclear Association Director General, Sama Bilbao y León, said.  

“Nothing less than this ambitious – but achievable – target will be enough to deliver the scale of contribution needed from nuclear energy to achieve sustainable economic development, and avert the devastating consequences of unchecked climate change,” she added.  

The companies representing the nuclear industry, including the Russian state atomic energy corporation Rosatom, pledged to maximize the contribution of existing operating nuclear power plants and accelerate the deployment of new nuclear facilities in a safe, responsible and secure manner, to achieve the goal of at least tripling nuclear energy capacity by 2050. 

The signatories to the Pledge acknowledge that nuclear energy’s track record of rapid deep decarbonisation makes it a cornerstone for achieving net-zero emission goals. Emphasising the lower material intensity and land use of nuclear power generation, they commit to mobilizing and supporting investments in nuclear power through innovative financing mechanisms. 

The Net Zero Nuclear Industry Pledge participants also commit to an annual review of progress towards their goals and targets, calling on other companies to join this declaration and support the transition to a sustainable, low-carbon energy future. 

In October, the IAEA released its annual outlook for nuclear power in the coming decades – “Energy, Electricity and Nuclear Power Estimates for the Period up to 2050 – revising up its global growth projections for a third straight year. 

In both its high and low case scenarios, the IAEA sees a quarter more nuclear energy capacity installed by 2050 than it did in 2020, testifying that a growing number of countries are looking to this clean and reliable energy source to address the challenges of energy security, climate change and economic development. 

In the high case scenario of the new outlook, nuclear installed capacity is seen more than doubling by 2050 to 890 gigawatts (GW) compared with the current 369 GW. In the low case, capacity increases to 458 GW. From last year’s outlook, the high and low cases have risen by 2 percent and 14 percent, respectively. 

In 2021, the IAEA revised up its projections for the first time since the 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan. Since the 2020 outlook, the high case projections to 2050 have now increased by 178 GW, a 24 percent increase. The report’s low case projections have seen even higher growth of about 26 percent. 

“Climate change is a big driver, but so is security of energy supply. Many countries are extending the lifetime of their existing reactors, considering or launching construction of advanced reactor designs and looking into small modular reactors (SMRs), including for applications beyond the production of electricity,” IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi said in the report. 

The IAEA said that amidst a rapidly transforming global energy landscape, intensified by the COVID-19 pandemic and geopolitical situation, the significant increase in the capacity forecast underlines how more and more countries view nuclear energy as a resilient, reliable and low carbon energy source.  

The report also reflects nuclear power’s importance in ensuring energy security to prevent future fluctuations in availability and prices.