May 28, 2019

Nuclear power's fade threatens push against climate change

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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

Italy reports lowest number of new coronavirus cases since February

Italy’s aerobatic team Frecce Tricolori fly over Milan in Duomo Square on May 25. Photo: Francesco Prandoni/Getty Images

The Italian government reported 300 new cases of coronavirus on Monday, the lowest daily increase since Feb. 29.

Why it matters: Italy, the first country in Europe to implement a nationwide lockdown after emerging as a hotspot in March, appears to have finally weathered its coronavirus outbreak. Italy has reported nearly 33,000 total deaths, the third-highest total behind the U.S. and U.K.

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 2 p.m. ET: 5,453,784 — Total deaths: 345,886 — Total recoveries — 2,191,310Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 2 p.m. ET: 1,651,254 — Total deaths: 97,850 — Total recoveries: 366,736 — Total tested: 14,163,915Map.
  3. World: Top Boris Johnson aide defends himself after allegations he broke U.K. lockdown — WHO suspends trial of hydroxychloroquine over safety concerns.
  4. 2020: Trump threatens to move Republican convention from North Carolina — Joe Biden makes first public appearance in two months.
  5. Public health: Officials are urging Americans to wear masks over Memorial Day.
  6. Economy: White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett says it's possible the unemployment rate could still be in double digits by November's election — Charities refocus their efforts to fill gaps left by government.
  7. What should I do? Hydroxychloroquine questions answeredTraveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

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Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Joe Biden makes first public appearance in over two months

Photo: Oliver Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

Former Vice President Joe Biden made his first in-person appearance in over two months on Monday to honor Memorial Day by laying a wreath at a Delaware veterans park, AP reports.

Why it matters: Biden, the Democratic Party's presumptive nominee, has taken the unprecedented step of campaigning from his home during the coronavirus pandemic, ever since canceling a rally in Cleveland on March 10.