The Biden administration, along with more than 10 countries across four continents, is set to announce a groundbreaking pledge to triple the world’s production of nuclear energy by 2050. The first major international agreement of its kind, the pledge is expected to be unveiled at the United Nations climate summit in Dubai later this month.
Notable signatories include the United Kingdom, France, Romania, Sweden, the United Arab Emirates, Japan, South Korea, as well as newcomers Ghana, Morocco, and Poland.
In order to facilitate the expansion of nuclear energy, pressure will be put on the World Bank to reconsider its long-standing ban on financing nuclear-energy projects. The American Nuclear Society (ANS), an organization advocating for atomic energy, asserts that nuclear-inclusive lending policies from financial institutions like the World Bank are crucial for a large-scale build-out of new nuclear energy.
The commitment is expected to attract further endorsements before the 28th Conference of the Parties to the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP28), where international negotiators aim to accelerate efforts to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions. The Paris Agreement, resulting from the 2015 conference, set targets to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. It is hoped that the expanded use of nuclear energy will contribute significantly to achieving these climate goals.
Jackie Toth, the deputy director of the Good Energy Collective, a progressive pro-nuclear group, expressed enthusiasm for the pledge, particularly noting the benefits it could bring to Africa, where energy reliability and emissions reduction are paramount. As Africa’s energy demand is expected to increase in the coming decades, establishing carbon-free capacity is essential to meeting global climate goals.
The Biden administration’s approach to nuclear energy differs significantly from the preceding Obama administration. While the Obama administration faced criticism for canceling key nuclear projects, the Biden White House now supports nuclear energy as a crucial component of a clean-energy transition.
With bold export aspirations, the United States aims to challenge Russia’s dominance in the nuclear energy market, as Russia accounts for nearly one-third of reactors currently being built worldwide.
Additionally, the Biden administration recently reached a separate agreement with China to triple the world’s renewable energy capacity, including wind and solar power, by 2030. This collaboration between the world’s two largest emitters of greenhouse gases is a significant step towards addressing climate change.
Furthermore, the United States is working on a pact with the European Union and the United Arab Emirates to triple renewable energy capacity, which has gained support from over 70 countries.
The U.S. commitment to combat climate change also involves a focus on carbon capture technology, an effort to attract at least a dozen more countries to adopt the technology before COP28 begins. Carbon capture seeks to filter carbon dioxide from smokestacks, preventing it from entering the atmosphere and exacerbating global warming.