THE CONVERGENCE OF NUCLEAR ENERGY, CLEAN AIR AND GLOBAL SECURITY

This was an important week that brought significant attention to the nexus of nuclear power, carbon reduction, and global security - an issue integration pioneered by PGS through the Global Nexus Initiative.

At the Copenhagen 9th Clean Energy Ministerial, nuclear power was highlighted as a major decarbonization technology when the U.S., Canada, and Japan announced the creation of the Nuclear Innovation: Clean Energy (NICE) Future initiative. Argentina, Poland, Romania, Russia, the United Arab Emirates, and the United Kingdom will also participate in the project. This is a significant step forward in recognizing that it will be extremely difficult if not impossible to reach the Paris Climate Agreement objectives without nuclear power as part of the clean-energy technology mix. In fact, the International Energy Agency reported this week that current nuclear phase-out policies will decrease the probability of meeting the Paris Agreement climate goals by 2030.

Nuclear power is also a vital element in geopolitics, a point made this week by former US government officials at NEI's Nuclear Energy Assembly in Atlanta, Georgia. These experts painted a stark picture, noting that a civil nuclear environment dominated by Russia and China raises significant global security concerns. The U.S. has been ineffective in positioning its nuclear technology and governance advantages in the international market, while competitors such as Russia and China are calculating and deliberate in how they use nuclear power exports to further their geopolitical ambitions.

These strategies were apparent this week in announcements by Russia and China. Rosatom introduced a new agenda at the ATOMEXPO forum that takes into account the role of nuclear power in reducing CO2 emissions. It is also aggressively expanding its overseas business by forging agreements to promote nuclear cooperation, training and technological development with ChileChinaCuba, FinlandHungaryItalyKazakhstanSerbiaSpain, and Zambia. Meanwhile, China signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Uganda to cooperate on nuclear energy, extending its investments in the country’s infrastructure. Russia inked a similar agreement with Uganda last year.

It’s gratifying to see that the policy discussion is at last starting to link nuclear energy, clean air, global security, and geopolitics. But the pace and urgency of this discussion needs to accelerate if these challenges are to be met.

 

Kenneth Luongo, President, Partnership for Global Security

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