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The nuclear industry

Agneta Rising, Director General of the World Nuclear Association said: “We welcome the commitments that governments have made, and the nuclear industry stands ready to help achieve the goals of the Paris agreement. This agreement should lead to a more positive outlook for nuclear investments, as nuclear is an important part of the response to climate change in countries across the world. What governments need to do now is convert the global agreement they have reached in Paris into national policies, including a progressive decarbonisation of the electricity generation sector. We have proposed that there should be 1000 GWe of nuclear new build by 2050 as part of a balanced low-carbon future energy mix. To achieve this, we need to see the introduction of energy markets with level playing fields which recognise the value of low carbon and reliable generation. We need to see the adoption of harmonised nuclear regulatory processes internationally. We also need to ensure that actions do not lead to clean nuclear power plants being closed prematurely and replaced with more polluting alternatives. Ongoing investment is also needed to help develop the next generation of nuclear technology, along with a clear and achievable pathway for deployment.”

Ahead of COP21, 188 nations had submitted their individual climate action plans, including how much they were intending to cut emissions. There is a wide range of targets in these Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs), from ambitious cuts by 2030 to almost doubling emissions by 2030, according to individual national circumstances. Collectively the INDCs, if met, are projected to result in a global temperature rise above pre-industrial levels of 2.7°C, which is considered insufficient constraint. National targets are not binding, there are no defined sanctions for failing to meet them, and they need verification anyway as well as five-yearly reviews ratcheting up the good intentions.

First stocktaking talks were planned for 2018. Countries with targets for 2025 should have new targets for 2020, while those with 2030 targets are invited to update them. This process is to be repeated every five years, with a first post-2020 review in 2023. The agreement requires countries regularly to update climate commitments, with each pledge being more ambitious than the last. It also invites countries to write long-term, mid-century low carbon emission strategies by 2020. In contrast to the Kyoto Protocol, the agreement binds all countries equally to these processes (but not targets), though developed countries are expected to “continue taking the lead by undertaking economy-wide absolute emission reduction targets.”