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Expand chart
Data: International Energy Agency; Chart: Axios Visuals

Nuclear power could fall by as much as two-thirds in developed nations by 2040 absent policy support and more investment, making it vastly harder to keep global warming in check, a new International Energy Agency report warns.

Why it matters: Nuclear is cumulatively the biggest zero-carbon power source in the nations IEA examined, which include the EU, the U.S. and Japan. A "significant" amount of this lost nuclear generation would be replaced by gas (and some coal) despite the surge in renewables, IEA said.

The big picture: The report is the latest to show how nuclear power is likely needed to help with the uphill climb of holding global temperature rise below 2°C.

Threat level: If nuclear drops by two-thirds, "cumulative CO2 emissions would rise by 4 billion tons by 2040, adding to the already considerable difficulties of reaching emissions targets."

  • The report arrives as long-running plants are shutting down and the pipeline of expensive new projects is small.

The intrigue: Building new plants is really expensive. But losing nuclear is even more costly, IEA argues.

  • "Without widespread lifetime extensions or new projects, electricity supply costs would be close to USD 80 billion higher per year on average for advanced economies as a whole," it states.

What's next: The report calls on regulators to extend operation of decades-old plants at risk of shutting down due to licenses ending or competitive pressures. It also has proposals to help spur new development.

  • Recommendations include various changes in market rules to better make continued operation of aging plants more attractive.
  • New projects can be made more likely and less risky with a combination of policies like price guarantees, carbon pricing, government-backed financing and more support for small modular reactors.

Go deeper: Green New Deal activists dismiss nuclear power

Go deeper

Armin Laschet elected as leader of Merkel's CDU party in Germany

Armin Laschet. Photo: Christian Marquar - Pool/Getty Images

Armin Laschet, the centrist governor of North Rhine-Westphalia, was elected on Saturday as the new leader of Germany's Christian Democratic Union (CDU), defeating the more conservative Friedrich Merz by a 521-466 margin.

Why it matters: Laschet is now the most likely successor to Chancellor Angela Merkel as the standard bearer of the German center-right heading into September's elections. With Merkel preparing to step down after 16 years in power, Laschet is seen as a continuity candidate.

Updated 10 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: CDC director defends agency's response to coronavirus pandemic — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Azar says deadly Capitol siege could "tarnish" Trump administration's legacy — Biden says, "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution.
  3. Vaccine: Battling Black mistrust of the vaccines"Pharmacy deserts" could become vaccine deserts — Instacart to give $25 to shoppers who get vaccine.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode againFed chair: No interest rate hike coming any time soon —  Inflation rose more than expected in December.
  5. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.
Bryan Walsh, author of Future
17 mins ago - Politics & Policy

America is anxious, angry and heavily armed

Data: FBI; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Firearms background checks in the U.S. hit a record high in 2020.

The big picture: This past year took our collective arsenal to new heights, with millions of Americans buying guns for the first time. That trend coincides with a moment of peak political and social tension.

You’ve caught up. Now what?

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