Nuclear Science and Technology at UN Climate Change Conference: A Game Changer in the Fight Against Climate Change
Table of Contents
IAEA’s Action Plan at COP28
As world leaders gather at this year’s UN Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), or COP28, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is set to host and take part in approximately 50 events from 30th November to 12th December 2023. These events will put a spotlight on the solutions that nuclear science and technology can offer in climate change mitigation, adaptation, and monitoring. The IAEA’s Atoms4Climate pavilion in the Blue Zone will showcase events centered around four key areas: energy, food, oceans, and water.
The Role of Nuclear Science in Climate Change
Low carbon nuclear energy has the potential to decrease greenhouse gas emissions, while nuclear techniques can play a significant role in enhancing global food security, monitoring ocean health, and improving access to clean water, all of which are severely impacted by climate change. In a star-studded kickoff event on Friday, December 1st, IAEA Director General, Rafael Mariano Grossi, will announce the IAEA Statement on Nuclear Power, supported by numerous countries. This flagship event will highlight the critical role of nuclear power as a part of the energy mix and will be livestreamed to allow global participation.
Net Zero and Nuclear Power
The latest Emissions Gap Report from the United Nations Environment Programme indicates that the world needs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 28% to limit the increase in global average temperatures to well below 2 degrees Celsius and by 42% to limit the increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius, both of which are goals set in the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change. COP28 will mark the first “global stocktake” under the agreement, providing a comprehensive assessment of the progress that countries have made in reaching their emissions reduction goals.
Nuclear Power: A Key Player in Achieving Net Zero
It is widely agreed within the climate community that carbon emissions from the energy sector need to be reduced to net zero by around the middle of the century to meet these goals. Nuclear power, accounting for about 10% of global electricity generation and providing about one quarter of the world’s low carbon electricity, has a pivotal role to play in a net zero future. Nuclear power offers affordability, resilience, and security of energy supply and can be used alongside renewables to achieve net zero. The IAEA’s Atoms4NetZero initiative aims to provide decision makers with comprehensive, data-driven energy scenario modeling, including the full potential of nuclear power in contributing to net-zero emissions. This initiative fills a significant gap in studies used by governments and financial institutions in support of new nuclear power projects.
Shifting Narratives: Dispelling Myths about Nuclear Energy
On December 5th, high-level international representatives will convene at the Atoms4Climate Pavilion for an event titled “Is Nuclear Deployment Too Slow for Net Zero?” aimed at dispelling the common myth that nuclear energy is too slow to help meet decarbonization targets. Additionally, on December 10th, the Atoms4Climate Pavilion will host a forum on “Building Clean and Resilient Energy Systems.”
In conclusion, the IAEA’s unparalleled contribution at COP28 will shed light on the essential role of nuclear science and technology in addressing the urgent challenge of climate change. Together, we can work towards a sustainable, net zero future.