Nuclear Energy Declaration adopted at Brussels summit

March 22, 2024, 12:02PMNuclear News
Government leaders gather on stage with IAEA director general Rafael Mariano Grossi at the Nuclear Energy Summit in Brussels on March 21.

International leaders and government representatives from nations that are operating or interested in operating nuclear power plants adopted a Nuclear Energy Declaration on March 21 at the first-ever Nuclear Energy Summit, hosted by the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Belgian government in Brussels, Belgium.

With the declaration, more than 30 attendees committed their nations to “fully unlock” the potential of nuclear energy.

Strong commitment: In the words of the declaration, the signatories, along with the director general of the IAEA, “reaffirm our strong commitment to nuclear energy as a key component of our global strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from both power and industrial sectors, ensure energy security, enhance energy resilience, and promote long-term sustainable development and clean energy transition.” This first paragraph continues:

We are determined to do our utmost to fulfil this commitment through our active and direct engagement, in particular by enhancing cooperation with countries that opt to develop civil nuclear capacities in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in a nationally determined manner, including for transitioning away from fossil fuels in energy systems, in a just, orderly and equitable manner, accelerating action in this critical decade, so as to achieve net zero by mid-21st century in keeping with the science, as outlined in the First Global Stocktake of the 28th United Nations Climate Change Conference.

Central role of the IAEA: The IAEA’s role as “the global center for cooperation in the nuclear field” was emphasized in the document. In recognizing this, signatories pledged that they “stand ready to work with the IAEA to identify and provide the necessary resources needed for the fulfilment of these objectives, subject to the availability of funds and any applicable domestic legal requirements.”

Financial support: Also covered by the declaration are financial aspects of nuclear, including public and private investments and garnering more support from global financial institutions.

It states, “We emphasize that concrete measures in support of nuclear energy may include, as appropriate, tools such as direct public financing, guarantees to debt and equity providers, schemes to share revenue and pricing risks” and also calls for greater inclusion of nuclear energy in the environmental, social, and governance policies based on its zero-emission benefits.

Regarding increased support from multinational and international financial institutions, the signatories call on the relevant organizations to support “appropriate conditions” for development of nuclear. “In particular,” the declaration states, “we invite multinational development banks, international financial institutions and regional bodies that have the mandate to do so to consider strengthening their support for financing nuclear energy projects and to support the establishment of a financial level playing field for all zero emission sources of energy generation.

Preparing the future workforce: The declaration notes the importance of education and training to prepare the nuclear workforce of the future: “We need to contribute further to nuclear education and research, and we consider of the utmost importance to train and retain a large and motivated workforce. Investment in skills, including re-skilling, through education and research is critical for the sector through the whole value chain.”

Until next time: The declaration closes by referring to plans for the next summit: “We welcome and support the IAEA in convening, in cooperation with a Member State, another Nuclear Energy Summit in due course to maintain the momentum and continue building support for nuclear energy to decarbonize our world.”

Additional backing: Almost 20 nongovernmental organizations have signed their own letter of support for the declaration. The NGOs include Third Way, North American Young Generation in Nuclear, Nuclear Innovation Alliance, International Bank for Nuclear Infrastructure, and the Nuclear Threat Initiative.

“We congratulate the International Atomic Energy Agency and Belgium for convening the first-ever Nuclear Energy Summit at the head of state level,” the letter said. “This summit is a critical opportunity to sustain the momentum of COP28, building on the notable commitment that 25 countries have already made to triple nuclear energy by 2050 and underscoring the importance of leader-level engagement on nuclear issues.”

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