Nuclear science and technology are part of the solution to both mitigating greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to climate change impacts. This was the message from IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi at this year’s United Nations climate change conference, COP27.
IAEA hosted over 40 events at the new nuclear pavilion in COP27
“We all know that the challenges posed by climate change are very, very difficult,” Mr Grossi said. “This is why nuclear is here, because nuclear has a place at the table, because nuclear is part of the solution towards a decarbonized energy mix in the world.” He explained that the IAEA is working together with international partners to show the possibilities of nuclear science and technology and how it and the IAEA will be part of the climate solution.
"Nuclear has a place at the table because it is art of the solution towards a decarbonized energy mix in the world" - Mariano Grossi, IAEA Director General
The growing participation of the IAEA and the nuclear community at the COP events reflects changing attitudes to nuclear energy as the climate crisis worsens. Over the past five decades nuclear energy has avoided the release of more than 70 gigatons of carbon dioxide, and today globally, more than 400 reactors produce about a quarter of the world’s low-carbon energy.
Today globally more than 400 reactors produce about a quarter of the world's low-carbon energy
Mr Grossi announced a new IAEA Atoms for Net Zero Initiative. “Increasingly states with little to no nuclear experience approach us for guidance on meeting their climate goals with nuclear energy, this new initiative is aimed at supporting them and ensuring no one is left behind in climate solutions,” he said.
Mr Grossi shared the stage with International Energy Agency (IEA) Executive Secretary Fatih Birol, who said that, “Nuclear power is making a comeback—and in a strong fashion.” In June, the IEA released a report identifying the potential policy, regulatory and market changes that could create new investment opportunities for nuclear, and explored the role of new technologies and their potential development and deployment.
At COP27, Mr Grossi engaged with young nuclear activists, saying he was inspired by their efforts to change skeptics’ minds with science and facts. On Thursday — the COP’s Youth and Future Generations Day — Mr Grossi joined a panel of young professionals in the nuclear field, to hear their thoughts and take their advice on avenues to pursue more inclusive climate action.
"Nuclear power is making a comeback—and in a strong fashion" Fatih Birol, IEA
Mr Grossi also took part in the event ‘Interplay of low carbon technologies for resilient net zero energy systems’, where he joined the heads of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO). All three emphasized that decarbonizing energy systems to achieve net-zero carbon emission targets will require utilizing all low-carbon technologies, including nuclear energy.
Mr. Grossi also met with leaders from the energy and environmental fields, from China, Ghana, United Arab Emirates (where COP28 will be held next year). He also held meetings with United Nations organization heads, including the Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization.
Cover photo: United Nations