France will start building its first new nuclear reactors in decades as part of efforts to meet its promises to reduce planet-warming emissions, French President Emmanuel Macron announced Tuesday. He spoke as climate negotiators in Glasgow debate how to speed up efforts against climate change, and amid concerns around Europe about recent spikes in energy prices and the continent’s dependence on global gas and oil producers, including Russia.
“To guarantee France’s energy independence, to guarantee our country’s electricity supply, and to reach our goals — notably carbon neutrality in 2050 — we will for the first time in decades revive the construction of nuclear reactors in our country, and continue to develop renewable energy,” Macron said in a televised address. He did not give any details of the plans.
France is more dependent than any other country on nuclear energy, but its reactors are aging and its newest-generation reactors are years behind schedule. Nuclear energy produces much lower emissions than coal, oil or gas, but nuclear plants are very expensive to build and produce radioactive waste that remains deadly for tens of thousands of years. Politicians are divided over whether nuclear energy should be included in global plans to reduce carbon emissions.