by Daniel B. Poneman, President & CEO
Over the next four weeks, world leaders will gather to confront two existential threats. On March 31, they will join forces in Washington to step up the fight against nuclear terrorism. On April 22, they will assemble in New York to sign the Paris agreement to fight climate change.
While these threats call for a complex web of tough responses, one common thread runs through them: both would benefit from strengthened American leadership in nuclear energy.
Start with climate change. The historic Paris agreement sets an ambitious target to limit global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. But scientists agree that even if all 188 national commitments under that pact are fully implemented, we will miss that mark by more than 2°C.
Meeting the rising global demand for energy while simultaneously cutting carbon emissions will not be easy. By 2050, meeting the Paris targets would require the world to cut carbon emissions by up to 70 percent while producing 70 percent more electricity. Even granting ambitious roles for efficiency, renewable energy, and carbon capture and sequestration, the International Energy Agency concludes that averting the worst consequences of climate change will require more than doubling the world’s nuclear energy capacity over the next 20 years.