DUBAI, UAE, Dec 2: At the United Nations climate summit in Dubai, the United States and 21 other nations committed to tripling nuclear energy capacity by 2050, aiming to reduce carbon emissions in the coming decades significantly. Nuclear energy proponents, constituting 18 percent of the US electricity supply, argue its cleanliness, safety, and reliability complement renewable sources. Despite this, financing poses a significant obstacle, exemplified by a recent project cancellation in Idaho due to rising costs. Signatories, including Britain, Canada, France, Ghana, South Korea, Sweden, and the United Arab Emirates, pledged to triple capacity from 2020 levels.
Addressing funding concerns, President Biden's climate envoy John Kerry noted the availability of “trillions of dollars” for nuclear investment, emphasizing its necessity to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. While nuclear power emits no carbon, critics challenge its costs and pace, with some climate activists dismissing it as a distracting and risky alternative. French President Emmanuel Macron called nuclear energy, including small modular reactors, an “indispensable solution,” urging international financial institutions to support nuclear projects.
Despite global leaders endorsing nuclear as a key alternative, critics, such as David Tong from Oil Change International, argue that the pledge is detached from the reality of nuclear energy's challenges. Activists from 350.org cite Fukushima's 2011 disaster, branding nuclear power as costly, risky, undemocratic, and time-consuming. The majority of new reactors since 2017 are from Russia or China, with Germany shutting its last three nuclear plants this year. Once on the rise, nuclear capacity evolved after accidents like Three Mile Island and Chornobyl, but proponents have highlighted advances in technology and regulations since then.
While public opinion on nuclear power in the United States is divided, a growing number supports expansion, according to a recent Pew Research Center study. The global push for increased nuclear capacity sparks debates on its feasibility, safety, and role in addressing climate change.
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