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Nuclear’s role in reaching climate targets recognised by G7

30 April 2024

The Group of Seven (G7) nations have committed to support the use of nuclear energy in those countries that opt to use it, a communique released at the end of the G7 Ministerial Meeting on Climate, Energy and Environment in Turin, Italy, says.

The meeting of the G7 ministers (Image: G7 Italia)

“Those countries that opt to use nuclear energy or support its use recognise its potential as a clean/zero-emissions energy source that can reduce dependence on fossil fuels to address the climate crises and improve global energy security,” the document states.

“These countries recognise nuclear energy as a source of baseload power, providing grid stability and flexibility, and optimising use of grid capacity, while countries that do not use nuclear energy or do not support its use prefer other options to achieve the same goals, taking into account their assessment of associated risks and costs of nuclear energy.”

The ministers noted the declaration issued by 25 countries during the COP28 climate conference in Dubai in December last year, setting a goal to triple global nuclear generating capacity by 2050. The communique said the ministers “recognise that, for countries that opt to use it, nuclear energy will play a role in reducing dependence on fossil fuels, supporting the transition to net-zero and ensuring energy security, while other countries choose other energy sources to achieve these goals”.

The ministers also said that new reactor designs – including advanced and small modular reactors – “could bring in the future additional benefits such as improved safety and sustainability, reduced cost of production, reduced project risk, waste management improvement, better social acceptance, opportunities for industry by providing at the same time energy, high temperature heat, hydrogen”.

They committed to support multilateral efforts to strengthen the resilience of nuclear supply chains and to continue the cooperation for building a robust nuclear supply chain in the framework of G7 and of the Nuclear Energy Working Group established in Sapporo.

The ministers noted that G7 leaders remain committed to reducing reliance on civil nuclear-related goods from Russia and the ongoing efforts by countries that operate Russian-designed reactors to make progress in securing alternative nuclear fuel contracts and to reduce dependencies related to spare parts, components and services.

They also said they would promote research and development initiatives on innovative nuclear power technologies “for those countries that opt to use nuclear energy or support its use”.

The communique added that the G7 will “promote the responsible deployment of nuclear energy technologies including for advanced and small modular reactors, including microreactors, and work collectively to share national best practices, including for responsible waste management, enable greater access to project financing tools, support sectorial collaboration, designing licensing procedures and strengthening coordination on development of commercial projects among interested G7 members and third markets”.

The ministers said: “We underscore the importance for all countries and their respective people of upholding the highest standards of safety, security, and safeguards and non-proliferation, particularly as more countries adopt nuclear power as part of their energy mix.”

Speaking at a joint press conference following the ministerial meeting, which he presided over, Italy’s Minister of the Environment and Energy Security, Gilberto Pichetto Fratin said: “When it comes to nuclear energy … our seven countries indicated in the communique that we will proceed together in order to promote further research and ensure that the conditions are in place to promote the use of nuclear energy, which is a clean form of energy.”

He added, without naming Germany: “This is something that is not binding. Obviously, we are aware that in the G7 there is a country that currently does not want to pursue the development of nuclear energy.”

The ministers’ statement came following a call by the nuclear industry for G7 governments to embrace nuclear deployment as a strategic priority, by maximising use of existing nuclear power plants and setting clear plans for further deployment that would fulfil the targets they set at COP28, to triple global nuclear capacity.

The statement was signed by the heads of Associazione Italiana Nucleare, Canadian Nuclear Association, Groupement des Industriels Français de l’Energie Nucléaire (Gifen), Japan Atomic Industrial Forum, Nuclear Energy Institute, Nuclear Industry Association, Nucleareurope and World Nuclear Association.

The G7 is an informal forum that brings together Italy, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, the UK, and the USA. The European Union also participates in the group and is represented at the summits by the President of the European Council and the President of the European Commission.

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