Nuclear power contributes greatly to achieving each of the 17 United Nations (U.N.) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a 24-page report produced through a collaborative effort by a handful of organizations with ties to the nuclear power industry says. Among the issues addressed in the document are how the nuclear industry helps in eliminating hunger, improving health, providing access to affordable and clean energy, generating decent work and economic growth, and mobilizing climate action.
“Nuclear energy provides the clean, on-demand affordable electricity needed to meet the world’s growing energy demands, while fulfilling the climate objectives of the Paris Agreement,” Sama Bilbao y León, director general of the World Nuclear Association, said in the introduction of the report. “But nuclear technologies do so much more! The planet and humanity are much better off because of the many nuclear contributions to achieving each of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals.”
The 17 SDGs
In January 2015, the U.N. General Assembly began the negotiation process on its post-2015 development agenda. The process culminated at the U.N. Sustainable Development Summit in September that year with the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, with 17 SDGs at its core.
The 17 SDGs are: no poverty; zero hunger; good health and well-being; quality education; gender equality; clean water and sanitation; affordable and clean energy; decent work and economic growth; industry, innovation, and infrastructure; reduced inequalities; sustainable cities and communities; responsible consumption and production; climate action; life below water; life on land; peace, justice, and strong institutions; and partnerships for the goals. Each of the SDGs is specifically addressed in the report produced by the nuclear groups—Canadian Nuclear Association, FORATOM, Japan Atomic Industrial Forum, Nuclear Energy Institute, Nuclear Industry Association, and World Nuclear Association.
Leaders Sound Off
In addition to Bilbao y León’s statement, heads of the other five organizations also commented in the opening to the report. Shiro Arai, president of the Japan Atomic Industrial Forum, said, “Nuclear is a key energy source to balance the so-called three Es: energy security, economic efficiency, and environmental sustainability. It is a reliable, established technology that can contribute significantly to a sustainable future.”
“Reliable nuclear carbon-free energy provides the foundation of a clean energy future to reach climate goals and improve public health and quality of life,” said Maria Korsnick, president and CEO of the Nuclear Energy Institute.
“Advanced and existing nuclear reactors can provide new possibilities to support clean industrialization worldwide,” said John Gorman, president and CEO of the Canadian Nuclear Association. “They are uniquely positioned to provide clean electricity, decarbonize our resource extraction and heavy industries, work in tandem with renewables and can be used to produce hydrogen in a cost-effective, clean way using either electricity or heat processes.”
Addressing the SDG related to decent work and economic growth, Tom Greatrex, chief executive of the Nuclear Industry Association, said, “Nuclear energy provides skilled, well-paid, long-term jobs that are essential to a just transition. Jobs in nuclear drive valuable investment into local communities and create real opportunities for the next generation to build a better life.”
Yves Desbazeille, director general of FORATOM, noted, “Nuclear requires very little land to generate massive quantities of low carbon energy. This low land footprint brings numerous benefits, not only in terms of reduced visual impacts. A lower land footprint reduces the loss of habitats, thus helping to support biodiversity goals.”
—Aaron Larson is POWER’s executive editor (@POWERmagazine).