Climate change is one of the most important issues the world is facing today. Nuclear power can make a significant contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions worldwide, while at the same time fulfilling the increasing energy demands of a growing world population and supporting global sustainable development. Nuclear power has considerable potential to meet the climate change challenge by providing electricity, district heating and high temperature heat for industrial processes, generated with almost zero greenhouse gas emissions.
To reach climate change goals, including those established in the Paris Agreement, a significantly greater deployment of low carbon energy technologies is needed. Nuclear power has the potential to play a significant role in achieving these mitigation goals and, as a large scale, reliable, dispatchable, and concentrated source of energy, can also contribute to broader economic and social dimensions of sustainable development. The potential role of nuclear power has been recently addressed also in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5ºC, released in October 2018.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has an important role in improving the understanding of the potential contribution of nuclear power by providing interested Member States with guidance and assistance for deploying safe, secure and safeguarded nuclear technology and in formulating national energy strategies and policies. Supporting Member States in the attainment of the United Nations climate change targets and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) is thus closely aligned with the statutory objective of the IAEA — to accelerate and enlarge the contribution of atomic energy to peace, health and prosperity throughout the world.
To this end, the IAEA is organizing the 2019 International Conference on Climate Change and the Role of Nuclear Power in Vienna from 7 to 11 October 2019. The conference will provide a platform to discuss objectively the scientific and technical aspects of the role of nuclear power in combating climate change. Topics covered in the conference will include: challenges and opportunities for existing nuclear power plants with respect to their continuous contribution to the avoidance of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions; factors necessary to support high rates of deployment, including for advanced nuclear power technologies, consistent with achieving the climate change goals, including those established in the Paris Agreement, and SDGs, namely SDG 7 (Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all) and SDG 13 (Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts); and the prospects for synergies between nuclear power and other low carbon energy sources.
The major thematic areas of the conference will comprise the mitigation challenge and implications for the power sector, including the role of nuclear power, stimulated by the engagement of Member States and various international organizations to improve the understanding of the relationship between nuclear and climate. The discussion will be guided by the following questions: “Where are we?”; “Where do we want to go?”; and “How do we get there?”. The broad themes will tackle the nuclear power’s interim and long term contributions (at present, until 2030, and beyond 2030) targeting future innovative applications, opportunities to address common challenges, and strategic and cross-cutting issues relating to public perception, regulations, markets and finance.
The conference will provide an opportunity to discuss mainstreaming nuclear power as a low carbon energy source and its role in combating climate change.