Adapting well to the new circumstances

Tim Yeo
Tim Yeo Chairman New Nuclear Watch Institute

Just before Christmas 2019, back in the pre-Covid era, NNWI published a leaflet entitled “Climate Change and Nuclear Energy - The World in 2020”. In this leaflet seven nuclear industry leaders looked ahead at what they expected and hoped 2020 would bring.

None of us knew what economic damage the pandemic was about to inflict on the world. The only silver lining of the otherwise tragic Covid driven slump has been the unforeseen fall in CO2 emissions. Nevertheless humanity now still faces what Kirsty Gogan of LucidCatalyst called in December 2019 “a watershed moment in protecting the earth’s climate”.

At that time Rauli Partanen, Think Atom’s CEO, urged “the nuclear industry to come out of the closet it has been hiding in for so long” and Yves Desbazeille, Director General of FORATOM, warned that some anti-nuclear EU member states were “trying to impose their opinions on other countries”.

Presciently, Alan Raymant, CEO of Bradwell B, looked forward to an Energy White Paper from the UK Government containing “a commitment to a significant role for nuclear in achieving its 2050 decarbonisation goals”. I argued that “the case for including nuclear energy within the EU Taxonomy is overwhelming”.

To a greater or lesser extent these thoughtful predictions came true and, a year and a half later, our industry has emerged in pretty good shape. Recognition of the vital role of nuclear in combating climate change is gradually spreading despite the mistaken efforts of a few environmental activists who remain entrenched opponents.

A change of government in America has increased hopes of a more united international response to climate change while the steady rise in the EU carbon price and growing support for wider use of carbon pricing holds out the prospect of stronger financial incentives for investment in low carbon technologies such as nuclear.

NNWI itself has adapted well to the new circumstances which every organisation has to deal with. Our regular breakfast meetings for invited audiences with two or three expert presentations followed by lively debate around topical subjects have metamorphosed seamlessly into well supported online webinars.

These are now addressed by speakers from all over the world with contributions often made by presenters from three different time zones to the same event. The audiences have become more international and larger then before.

Our plans for another London Forum last year on the lines of the successful one in 2019 had to be shelved. However, with the possibility that physical events may resume again soon, we are in discussion with sponsors for a 2021 Forum this autumn and we are also considering hosting a side event at COP26 in Glasgow in November.

Our new initiative, “Yes to Nuclear”, is highlighted on our website and supported by our partners Nuclear 21, the Nuclear Innovation Alliance and World Nuclear Transport Institute. Each month we release publications focusing on the crucial role of nuclear energy in achieving the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. In the run-up to COP 26, we are showcasing the wide-ranging applications that nuclear energy production has to offer across industries.

We continue to carry out research and regularly publish our views in a variety of media outlets. We are always delighted to hear from you and are ready to consider publishing your comments and contributions on our website so please keep in touch.  

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