FORATOM announces priorities for 2019: Climate change, sustainability and jobs
FORATOM President Teodor Chirica and Director General Yves Desbazeille highlight the association’s priorities for 2019.
2018 ended on a high for the nuclear industry. At international level, the IPCC made it clear that nuclear power is essential if the world is to keep global warming to below 1.5 degrees. The IEA also issued a stark warning to the EU that, whilst nuclear is a low-carbon source of baseload electricity capable of ensuring security of supply, current EU policies are discouraging investments in new nuclear power plants and the long-term operation of existing reactors. And the European Commission (EC) confirmed that nuclear will form the backbone of a carbon-free European power system, together with renewables.
But our work is certainly not over. Many political changes are coming over the next 12 months, most notably Brexit, the election of a new European Parliament and the appointment of a new European Commission, all of which will change the EU landscape. In the longer term, it is important for our industry to work together with decision makers to develop an investment-friendly framework which will encourage a significant nuclear new build programme.
Going forward, we see many opportunities to engage on key issues of importance to the EU, and our three main policy priorities for the year can be summarised as follows:
Climate Change: With the publication of both the EC’s ‘A Clean Planet for All’ communication and the FTI-CL Energy Consulting study ’Pathways to 2050: role of nuclear in a low-carbon Europe‘ commissioned by FORATOM at the end of 2018, the foundations have been laid for future actions on climate change. We are delighted that the EU now recognises the important role of nuclear in the electricity mix as part of the solution to a low-carbon future. Over the next 12 months we will continue to feed into discussions at EU level, providing reliable facts and data which demonstrate how nuclear will help Europe reduce its CO2 emissions, whilst at the same time providing people with the affordable electricity they need when they need it.
Sustainability: Broader environmental impacts, including land use, raw materials and air pollution are key questions which FORATOM plans to tackle over the next 12 months. When assessing whether an energy source is sustainable or not, it is essential that a whole life cycle approach be considered to better account for all environmental impacts. Nuclear has a lot to offer, as it does not require vast volumes of land nor raw materials to produce significant amounts of energy. We will also be working hard to ensure that decisions relating to sustainable finance are based on objective criteria, rather than an ideological list of what people think are, or are not, sustainable.
Jobs: As one of the flagship areas of the current EC, FORATOM will continue to promote nuclear as a European industry which generates a significant number of jobs throughout its value chain. To demonstrate this, FORATOM has engaged an external consultant to conduct a study which will identify exactly what the sector has to offer in terms of jobs in Europe. At the same time, the industry is concerned about the increasing skills shortage. We will therefore work together with our members, and via EU funded projects such as ENEN+, to attract the young generation towards a career in the nuclear field.
We have many opportunities ahead of us and, as an industry, we will work together with policymakers and stakeholders to ensure the best possible future for Europe and its citizens.