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European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Thursday told world leaders that nuclear energy can help them cut carbon emissions, at a first Nuclear Energy Summit in Brussels.

“In countries that are open to the technology, nuclear technology can play an important role in clean energy transitions,” von der Leyen told the assembled leaders in Brussels. “After the global energy crisis caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, many countries are giving a fresh look to [sic] the potential role that nuclear might play.”

Von der Leyen was speaking at the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) first ever Nuclear Energy Summit, attended by the leaders of over 30 countries. The summit’s purpose is “to highlight the role of nuclear energy in reducing the use of fossil fuels,” the IAEA’s event page says.

Nuclear energy divides EU member states. While some – such as France and Hungary – are planning new nuclear plants, others are phasing out nuclear energy entirely.

Von der Leyen’s native Germany shut down its last three nuclear power plants on April 15 of last year. Belgium, where von der Leyen was born to German parents, is also in the midst of a nuclear phase-out.

“There are different views across the European Union on nuclear power,” von der Leyen acknowledged. But she pointed out that worldwide, nuclear power is “the second-largest source of low-emission electricity after hydro-power.”

A protester holding a sign bearing the logo of pressure group Greenpeace, which opposes nuclear energy, was filmed abseiling from the roof of the conference venue. The sign said: “nuclear fairytale.”

European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen speaks at a press conference during the Nuclear Energy Summit in Brussels. Aurore Martignoni/European Commission/dpaEuropean Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen speaks at a press conference during the Nuclear Energy Summit in Brussels. Aurore Martignoni/European Commission/dpa

European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen speaks at a press conference during the Nuclear Energy Summit in Brussels. Aurore Martignoni/European Commission/dpa



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