Waterloo, Canada – April 12, 2010 – As the nuclear summit in Washington hosted by U.S. President Barack Obama unfolded today, The Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) released the main report of its Nuclear Energy Futures (NEF) project online. The undertaking is the culmination of three-and-a-half years of research into the purported nuclear energy revival and its implications for global governance.

 The Future of Nuclear Energy to 2030 and Its Implications for Safety, Security and Nonproliferation is a comprehensive report divided into four distinctive and detailed parts as follows:

Part 1 – The Future of Nuclear Energy to 2030: Since the turn of the century there has been a revival of global interest in the use of nuclear energy for generating electricity.  Many observers anticipate that after decades in the doldrums, the nuclear energy industry is poised for resurgence. Part 1 of the report assesses the likelihood of a so-called nuclear energy “renaissance” by considering  the drivers and constraints most likely to influence decision making about nuclear energy in the coming decades and seeking to discover where the balance will lie.

Part 2 – Nuclear Safety: Nuclear safety has always been among the paramount concerns of those who oppose or are skeptical about the use of nuclear energy for electricity generation. Safety should be a paramount concern of states that host nuclear power plants, the civilian nuclear industry that operates them and, not least, the “new entrant” countries that are seeking nuclear energy ― since a single major accident could kill the nuclear revival.  Nuclear safety is relevant to the entire life cycle of nuclear fuels and facilities. Part 2 of the report assesses the safety issues facing power plants as well as conversion, enrichment and reprocessing facilities.

Part 3 – Nuclear Security: Security affects the nuclear industry in a way that it does not affect other forms of energy generation.  This is due to the highly secretive nuclear weapons programs from which civilian applications of nuclear energy emerged and to the strategic nature of the facilities and nuclear materials involved. Nuclear security is considered the exclusive preserve of sovereign states in a way that nuclear safety is not, making global governance in this area much more challenging.  Part 3 of the report highlights the contrast between nuclear safety and nuclear security regimes, particularly where the latter is complicated by national sovereignty and law enforcement issues.

Part 4 – Nuclear Nonproliferation: The link between civilian nuclear energy and nuclear weapons proliferation has been an abiding one since the dawn of the nuclear age. Long-standing fears of states acquiring nuclear weapons through civilian nuclear energy programs have been accompanied by expectations that a solution might be a system of global governance. Part 4 of the report considers the links between civilian nuclear energy and nuclear weapons, the past history and current state of the global nonproliferation regime, the likely impact that a nuclear energy revival will have on it and ways to strengthen it in advance.

The report warns that increased use of nuclear energy for generating electricity may threaten nuclear security unless steps are taken to prevent this happening, especially in states that have had no experience of a nuclear industry to date. The report also makes recommendations for improving nuclear security worldwide, including the creation of an international security community that exchanges best practice and lessons learned. The report further recommends early entry into force of the Amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material, which would oblige states to improve nuclear security within their territories, not just while materials are in transit.

The main report, which contains more than 400 pages, including figures and tables, complements the NEF Action Plan and Overview which were previously released in March 2010.

2010 will be a pivotal year for nuclear issues. On the heels of today’s summit comes the gathering of parties to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in New York in May for a review conference, followed by Canada’s G8 Summit in June, where nuclear proliferation issues will occupy a prominent place on the agenda.

CIGI’s Nuclear Energy Futures project is conducted in partnership with the Canadian Centre for Treaty Compliance (CCTC) at the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs, Carleton University, Ottawa. The project is chaired by CIGI Distinguished Fellow Louise Fréchette and directed by CIGI Senior Fellow Trevor Findlay, director of CCTC.

To view or download a free copy of The Future of Nuclear Energy to 2030 and Its Implications for Safety, Security and Nonproliferation, or its Action Plan and Overview, please visit: www.cigionline.org/publications/2010/2/future-nuclear-energy-2030  

For more information about CIGI, visit www.cigionline.org. For more information about CCTC, visit http://www.carleton.ca/cctc.

MEDIA CONTACT:

Mary-Lou Schagena
Communications Specialist
CIGI
Phone: 519.885.2444, ext. 238
E-mail: [email protected] 

The Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) is an independent, nonpartisan think tank that addresses international governance challenges. Led by a group of experienced practitioners and distinguished academics, CIGI supports research, forms networks, advances policy debate, builds capacity, and generates ideas for multilateral governance improvements. Conducting an active agenda of research, events and publications, CIGI's interdisciplinary work includes collaboration with policy, business and academic communities around the world. CIGI was founded in 2002 by Jim Balsillie, co-CEO of RIM (Research In Motion), and collaborates with and gratefully acknowledges support from a number of strategic partners, in particular the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario. For more information, please visit www.cigionline.org.

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The opinions expressed in this article/multimedia are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of CIGI or its Board of Directors.