Beyond Exclusions: Sustainable Finance for Nuclear Energy

The Conference Board of Canada, 22 pages, January 12, 2022
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Nuclear energy generates zero-emissions electricity and can play an important role in fighting climate change, but outdated views on its risks are limiting access to sustainable finance for nuclear projects.

Document Highlights

Nuclear energy has long been negatively associated with “sin” industries like tobacco, alcohol, and gambling, due to its real and perceived risks. This has led to the exclusion of nuclear energy projects from the pool of potential green investments, despite the fact that nuclear-produced electricity generates zero emissions.

Although the risks associated with nuclear energy generation are real, they are relatively low and must be weighed against the urgent risks posed by climate change.

Many green or sustainable financing frameworks specifically exclude nuclear projects, thereby limiting access to capital for nuclear energy, including innovative technologies like small modular reactors. These technologies have strong potential to support the transition to a net-zero economy, but only if utility companies can access the financing they need to deploy them. More flexible financing instruments and a holistic, nuanced approach to risk assessment are needed in order to make this a reality.

Table of Contents

Key Findings
Sustainable Finance for SMRs
Small Modular Reactors in Canada
Exclusionary Screens
Is Nuclear Energy a Sin?
From Exclusion to Integration
Financing the Energy Transition
Nuclear Energy in the EU Taxonomy
Sustainability-Linked Bonds and an Evolving Sustainable Financial Market
Sustainable Finance and Nuclear Energy: Final Thoughts
Appendix A— Methodology
Appendix B— Bibliography

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