World leaders come together in support of nuclear energy at the Nuclear Energy Summit in Brussels
April 02, 2024

World leaders come together in support of nuclear energy at the Nuclear Energy Summit in Brussels

The Nuclear Energy Summit in Brussels brought together world leaders from 32 countries, along with the European Union (EU), to focus on the importance of nuclear power in addressing climate change, guaranteeing energy security, and driving sustainable development. The summit, the first of its kind, the prominent role of nuclear energy at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP28) in December 2023.

The first Energy Summit focused on the importance of addressing climate change, guaranteeing energy security and driving sustainable development

During his opening remarks, IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi emphasized the need for decisive action to foster environments that pave the way to nuclear development. Grossi stated, “Acknowledging nuclear's necessity isn't enough. It's on political leaders to foster environments that encourage nuclear development. Without decisive action, the potential for nuclear to support the green transition could be lost.”

Statements from Heads of State and high-level national representatives highlighted the importance of nuclear power in meeting clean energy transition goals. President Emmanuel Macron of France emphasized the multifaceted benefits of nuclear power, stating, “Our challenge is to deliver on climate change, reduce CO2 emissions, improve energy sovereignty, and enhance competitiveness to create jobs.”

World leaders come together in support of nuclear energy at the Nuclear Energy Summit in Brussels
IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi at the opening of the Nuclear Energy Summit (Photo: IAEA)

The IAEA Director General emphasized the need for decisive action to foster environments conductive to nuclear development

The Summit marked a significant moment for the future of nuclear energy, with Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs Hakan Fidan affirming their commitment to nuclear energy development. He noted, “Once fully operational, the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant will meet 10 percent of our electricity demand. Our objective is to raise this level by building additional conventional plants as well as small modular reactors.”

The Netherlands' Prime Minister Mark Rutte acknowledged the changing perceptions of nuclear energy, stressing its importance in the transition to a fossil-free future. Rutte stated, “For the transition to succeed, we need every carbon-free energy source we can get. But we also need a source that is available come rain or shine. And that is nuclear energy.

The summit also underscored the crucial role of nuclear energy in achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. With 22 countries pledging to work towards tripling nuclear power capacity by 2050, and an additional three countries signing onto the pledge, momentum for nuclear power continues to build globally.

The first ever Nuclear Energy Summit

With 22 countries pledging to work towards tripling nuclear power capacity by 2050, and an additional three countries signing onto the pledge, momentum for nuclear power continues to build globally

Several industry representative groups issued a joint statement in which they welcomed the outcome of the summit, and "the commitment of the national leaders assembled to the development and deployment of nuclear energy to fight climate change, provide energy security, and drive sustainable economic development. We stand ready to work alongside governments to deliver the required nuclear capacity to meet the challenges ahead of us".

Industry representative groups issued a joint statement expressing the commitment of the national leaders assembled to the development and deployment of nuclear energy

Industry representatives expressed their readiness to support governmental efforts to expand nuclear power. John Podesta, Senior Advisor to the President for Clean Energy, Innovation, and Implementation in the United States, affirmed their commitment, stating, “We pledge to work closely with interested governments and support the continued operation of existing nuclear power facilities, the construction of new ones, and the development of nuclear infrastructure both in the United States and around the world.”

The Summit also highlighted the importance of collaboration between governments and industry in deploying fusion energy. Pietro Barabaschi, Director-General of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER), emphasized the potential of fusion energy, stating, “The feasibility of nuclear fusion as an energy source will be demonstrated in a relatively short time – in a decade. But the viability as a reliable energy source requires a lot of imagination.”

The Summit also highlighted the importance of collaboration between governments and industry in deploying fusion

Representatives from China outlined ambitious plans for nuclear energy expansion, with Vice Premier Zhang Guoqing stating, “Nuclear energy possesses unique advantages in addressing climate change and ensuring energy security.”

The Summit concluded with a call for global investment in nuclear energy across all economies. Rafael Mariano Grossi emphasized the pivotal role of the IAEA in supporting this transition, stating, “The IAEA, born from a vision of nuclear for peace and prosperity, is here to support this transition.”

Source: IAEA

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