On April 22 and 23, President Biden hosted forty world leaders virtually at the Leaders Summit on Climate (“Climate Summit”) to employ a “whole of government” approach in the fight against climate change. The world leaders announced a variety of commitments to include creating global partnerships, setting financial benchmarks, and transforming current energy supply schemes, as discussed in a recent Hogan Lovells Client Alert.
Among the domestic and international commitments, President Biden pledged that the U.S. would cut its emissions by 50-52% below 2005 levels by 2030. This announcement dovetails into his larger promise to make the U.S. electricity sector carbon neutral by 2035 and the U.S. economy net zero by 2050. President Biden also assured that fighting climate change is an economic opportunity and coupled each proposed energy initiative with the confidence of good jobs.
These goals will be virtually impossible to achieve without the use of nuclear energy, a technology already proven to produce vast amounts of energy with zero emissions. With the nuclear ban lifted by the Development Finance Corporation for investment in innovation projects, the U.S. government acknowledged the importance of nuclear in the transition to clean energy in developing economies.
In supporting the U.S. “whole of government” approach to combat climate change, commitments made at the Climate Summit shined the spotlight on advanced nuclear technologies. For example, the Department of State announced the launch of its Foundational Infrastructure for the Responsible Use of Small Modular Reactor Technology (FIRST) Program. Through an initial $5.3 million investment, this program will strengthen international collaboration between the U.S. and partner countries seeking to deploy nuclear energy in their clear energy initiatives. This cooperation includes supporting the deployment of advanced nuclear technologies, including small modular reactors (SMRs), in a manner consistent with the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Milestones Approach for implementing a responsible nuclear power program. While the Department of State did not identify any potential partner countries or funding criteria, it stated the program would engage government, industry, national laboratories and academic institutions.
Consistent across all initiatives announced at the Climate Summit, by both the U.S. government and international leaders, was the need to address carbon pollution from industrial processes generally through the production of and reliance on renewable and nuclear energy.
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