Concerns have been raised that Scotland has been left “painfully isolated” after three-quarters of the global economy backed new nuclear power but SNP ministers continue to turn away from the technology.

At COP28 in Dubai, the US, UK and other leading economies have endorsed a goal to triple nuclear power capacity by 2050 as part of global efforts to fight climate change.

The UK has endorsed a global ambition to treble civil nuclear power capacity between 2020 and 2050, alongside the US and France, aimed at helping combat climate change and improve energy security.

The UK Government has already committed for a quarter of Britain’s power to come from nuclear by 2050.

The declaration marks the first time that governments have joined together at the UN’s leading climate conference to endorse nuclear power.

According to data analysis by the Nuclear Industry Association using information from the World Nuclear Association and IAEA, countries accounting for more than 75% of world’s economy now have new nuclear plans.

Of the world’s 10 largest economies, only Germany does not plan new reactors. Germany also burns more coal than any other country in Europe.

Germany remains sceptical of nuclear power and is instead turning to green hydrogen to power its future industry in line with net zero.

Read more: UK Government gives up on imposing nuclear energy on Scotland

The industry has warned the Scottish Government to revise its position with the majority of world economies looking to nuclear power.

Tom Greatrex, chief executive of the Nuclear Industry Association, said: “Scotland is painfully isolated from the overwhelmingly bulk of scientific and global opinion; we need new nuclear, at scale and at pace, to hit net zero.

“Every credible modelling organisation, from the UN, to the IEA, to CCC, says that, and every country that is serious about cutting emission has done so with nuclear.

“The Scottish Government needs to wake up, smell the coffee, and drop their ban on new nuclear projects before jobs, investment and opportunity goes elsewhere.”

Energy is largely reserved to the UK Government, but SNP ministers can essentially veto plans for nuclear power stations due to devolved planned rules.

In May, UK Government energy minister Andrew Bowie told The Herald that he has given up lobbying the Scottish Government over its opposition of new nuclear power stations – accusing the SNP and Greens of holding a “Luddite mentality” to the technology.

Read more: Scotland's £25bn green hydrogen strategy to power German industry

But last week, Mr Bowie reignited the row, telling The Times that the Scottish Government blocking new nuclear reactors would be an “act of economic vandalism” and labelled the opposition a “gross irresponsibility, verging on the criminally negligent”.

SNP Energy Minister Gillian Martin has stressed that the Scottish Government “does not support the building of new nuclear fission power stations in Scotland under current technologies”.

She added: “Although SMRs are innovative in their size and construction technique, they use the same method of electricity generation as traditional nuclear fission.

“That means that they carry the same environmental concerns as traditional nuclear power plants, while their economic competitiveness is still to be proven in practice.

“New nuclear power could take decades to become operational. It would be expensive and so would push up household bills.

“As we have set out in our draft energy strategy and just transition plan, significant growth in renewables, storage, hydrogen and carbon capture provide the best pathway to net zero and will offer a climate-friendly energy system that delivers affordable, resilient and clean energy for Scotland.”

Greens criticise 'out of date' nuclear energy

The Herald: Scottish Greens environment spokesperson Mark RuskellScottish Greens environment spokesperson Mark Ruskell (Image: PA)
Scottish Greens environment spokesperson, Mark Ruskell said: “Nuclear energy is costly, dangerous and out of date.

"It’s no kind of solution, and will leave a long and toxic legacy for generations to come. The UK experience of Hinkley Point underlines all of these problems, with delay after delay and ever-ballooning costs.  

“The climate emergency is happening all around us. We simply don’t have time to waste on overpriced and dirty solutions like nuclear energy.”

Mr Ruskell welcomed the announcement at COP28 that 118 countries have pledged to triple renewable energy.

He said: “This is a significant step in the right direction and could be key to our shift away from climate-wrecking fossil fuels. 

“Locally sourced renewable energy is the cheapest and greenest energy available. We have more and better technology available to us than ever before, all that is missing is the political will. 

“I hope that this summit can be when leaders finally turn a corner and start to give renewables the investment and support that they deserve.”

World leaders back expansion of nuclear power

US climate envoy John Kerry and French President Emmanuel Macron pushed for development of nuclear energy, which does not produce greenhouse gas emissions, even if it presents security and waste challenges.

Read more: COP28: Yousaf urged to harness 'global leadership' for ecocide success

At COP28, a group of more than 20 nations called for a tripling of nuclear energy generated in the world by 2050.

“I want here to reiterate the fact that nuclear energy is a clean energy and it should be repeated,” said Mr Macron, which gets around two-thirds of its electricity from nuclear power, the most of any industrialised country, and even exports some of it to its neighbours.

A declaration issued at the event did not specify how much money should be set aside, but urged the World Bank and others to “encourage” expanding lending for nuclear projects.

Mr Kerry said: “We have to invest. I’m not saying give away. I’m saying invest the trillions of dollars that are sitting on the sidelines looking for bankable deals but not willing to move as fast as we need to move.”