French nuclear plant at Belleville sur Loire.  (Source: The Guardian)
Combating climate change a prime focus of new technology deal

France generates over 78% of its electricity from nuclear power, giving the nation energy independence as well as one of the lowest electric rates in all of Europe. The French success story has attracted the interest of Great Britain, which is poised to announce a joint agreement between the nations to develop and market nuclear power around the globe.

In a deal lasting 15 years, Britain will license four French reactor designs and train a large workforce in their construction and maintenance. The two nations will work together to market the reactors to nations around the globe. The designs will also eventually replace Britain's aging network of nuclear power stations, which today comprise 20% of the nation's electric supply.

The plan, leaked to The Guardian earlier today, is to be announced early next week at the "Arsenal Summit," when British Prime Minister Gordon Brown meets with French President Nicolas Sarkozy at the Arsenal Soccer Club in London.

The French company Areva, whose designs are included in the plan, already has deals to build reactors or sell nuclear products to many nations, including Finland, South Korea, China, and the US.

Unlike fossil fuels, nuclear power emits no greenhouse gases, making it an attractive option for nations trying to meet Kyoto's emission reduction guidelines. Unlike many other renewable sources, nuclear is also cost competitive with fossil fuels, making it a cheap and abundant source of energy.

The agreement is already drawing fire from environmentalists. Friends of the Earth called it "nonsense" that will do nothing to reduce climate change. The Sierra Club said nuclear power is "dangerous and irresponsible" and said the focus should be on wind and solar instead.

German officials were quick to follow the pre-announcement, claiming the country needs to follow in the footsteps of the UK-France agreement to avoid blackouts.  The United Arab Emirates also pledged to invest more into its nuclear program within hours of the European announcements.

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