News Release from REN21


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REN21 responds to the First Ever Nuclear Energy Summit Held in Brussels:

“A huge distraction from where the world leaders focus should be.”

Image: Pixabay - Nuclear Reactors and Wind Power PlantImage: Pixabay - Nuclear Reactors and Wind Power Plant

Paris- World leaders are gathering for the first ever Nuclear Energy Summit in Brussels today to position nuclear technology as a solution to replace polluting fossil fuels and address climate change, development and energy security. The summit comes in the wake of the COP28 decision, which in addition to calling for tripling renewable capacity and doubling the global average annual rate of energy efficiency improvements by 2030, unfortunately recognised nuclear as one of the solutions for deep reduction of GHG emissions in line with 1.5°C. 

As with the inclusion of nuclear in the COP28 text, this Summit is a huge distraction from where the focus of world leaders should be. Renewable energy and energy efficiency are the widely recognised and most affordable and safe contenders to replace fossil fuels, slash emissions and pave the way for resilient, just and sustainable development. According to IEA and IRENA analyses, 90% of emissions reductions will be covered by renewable energy, coupled with energy efficiency and end-use electrification by 2050. The message there is that the shift to a renewables-based energy system is possible and beneficial. This is where the focus of world leaders should be,” said  REN21 Executive Director Rana Adib. 

Renewable energy is available in one form or the other around the world and is the cheapest energy source in most markets. Its local production generates a bounty of benefits in the form of clean air, associated health improvements, jobs and economic opportunities, and enhanced access to energy. Distributed renewables allow for multiple uses of land and for inclusion of many stakeholders in communities.   Most nuclear energy is state owned, top-down and hostile to the concepts of participatory planning and implementation of energy projects and inclusion. It adheres to the energy systems of the past. Nuclear energy is expensive.  It produces radioactive waste that is difficult to store and manage.  

France, for example, is home to an estimated 1.7 million cubic metres (m3 ) of nuclear waste, with three-quarters of it stored in dedicated public facilities. Radioactivity from nuclear lasts for generations and the facilities are vulnerable to accidents and security breaches.  

Renewables should be a no brainer for all world leaders. In addition to increasing energy access and energy security, the renewable energy sector will provide tens of millions of additional jobs in the coming decades, growing from 13.7 million in 2022 to over 40 million in 2050. And with jobs in transition-related technologies growing from 15 to 81 million by mid-century, (according to data from IRENA), it’s clear that the gains in renewable energy jobs will clearly outweigh job losses in the fossil fuel sector. Rooftop solar PV, mainly owned by citizens, corporations, cities, represents more than 40% of the total installed capacities in 2022, fostering energy democracy. 

"With all these proven benefits provided by renewable energy, turning to an expensive, hazardous and less democratic energy source like nuclear is a missed opportunity and waste of valuable time and resources. There are less than 2000 days left until 2030 and the window of opportunity to keep warming below 1.5°C is fast closing. We simply have no time and resources to build nuclear facilities.  

World leaders must listen to the science and the data showing that renewable energy and energy efficiency are the best, most affordable and sustainable pathway to resilient and just economies and societies. There is still significant work to be done to fulfil the most important outcome of COP28 and to transform our economies to become renewables based. World leaders should not be distracted from achieving this crucial goal,” Adib said. 

Hala Kilani

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