World Nuclear Association consultation response to the European Commission's 2030 Climate Target Plan

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World Nuclear Association represents the global nuclear industry, an industry that contributes 100 billion euros annually to the EU economy, an industry that provides some 1 million jobs across the Union and provides 27% of the EU’s electricity.

We are strongly in favour of the European Commission’s ambition to increase the GHG emissions reductions targets for 2030 and that any such emission reductions are done in a responsible and sustainable fashion. Ensuring that already-existing nuclear power plants are given the conditions to continue to provide stable, affordable and inherently clean electricity will be a crucial component in meeting this increased ambition.

We welcome the initiative to ensure that the EU has access to a secure, affordable and sustainable energy system that is also socially fair, environmentally robust and builds skills for the future. In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and the eventual need for a huge mobilization to aid the economic recovery, consideration to the cost allocation and effectiveness of the energy transition solutions will be essential. Therefore, it is crucial that any components of such an energy system must carry all its system costs, rather than distributing these without identification on to the consumers. This would not only ensure achieving GHG emissions reductions, but also ensure that genuine value for money is delivered for citizens.

We agree with leading experts that all low carbon technologies will be needed to achieve deep decarbonisation. Nuclear energy has a unique role to play in regard to ensuring a socially and economically just transition that would be applicable through the Union. The reality in many Member States is that coal remains a key pillar in the community, not only in terms of electricity generation but also in terms of jobs. It is crucial that any transition away from coal towards low-carbon sources must be done in a way that is socially and economically sustainable. If nuclear plants were built and timed to start operating with coal unit closures this would also provide a just transition for many coal power plant workers without the need for a career change or relocation, given the fact both power plants share many engineering features.

We welcome the fact the EU is willing to provide global leadership in meeting the objectives of the Paris Agreement and agree that the EU’s ability to demonstrate the feasibility of a trajectory to climate neutrality and to manage a just transition will send a strong signal to other countries to follow suit. Historically, nuclear power effectively decarbonised several Member States’ electricity systems (e.g. France, Sweden) and nuclear power is the low-carbon backbone of the EU, providing some 27% of the EU’s electricity, and 50% of its low-carbon electricity. Maintaining and growing nuclear energy in the energy system of the future would not only make the transition towards a sustainable society much easier within the timeframes required and to a lower cost.

We believe that nuclear energy has a key role to play, as set out in the Commission’s Clean Planet For All communique. Nuclear, alongside with renewables, will be able to achieve the deep GHG emissions cuts that the Commission has set out in this document, whilst also ensuring that the transition will be socially and economically affordable. By adopting a nuclear-renewables policy, the EU will once again provide well-needed leadership in the global arena in regard to climate change and sustainable development.

15 April 2020