Thelma Krug, Vice-Chair of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), gives a lecture in Madrid by invitation from the Spanish Nuclear Forum.
"To stabilize global warming at 1,5 °C requires emissions to reach net zero by mid-century, and a decline in other non-CO2 human emissions"
The Spanish Nuclear Industry Forum, an association committed to the environment with the conviction that nuclear energy is key in the prevention of climate change as it is an energy source free of CO2, invited the Vice-Chair of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to present in Madrid the "Global Warming of 1.5 °C" report, as well as the role of nuclear energy in the prevention of emissions.
IPCC's special report "Global Warming of 1.5 °C", published at the end of 2018, highlights the need to keep the increase in temperature, as compared to pre-industrial levels, below 1.5°C. This is necessary in order to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change, achieve sustainable development goals and eradicate poverty.
Thelma Krug, IPCC Vice-Chair, points out that "one of the key messages of the special report was that every bit of warming matters and that significant differences exist between a 1.5 °C warmer world and a 2 °C one." To stabilize global warming at 1,5 °C, she adds, "requires emissions to reach net zero by mid-century, and a decline in other non-CO2 human emissions".
"All low-carbon primary energy sources, including renewables, nuclear and fossil with carbon dioxide capture and storage, have a role to play"
According to this report, it is estimated that human activities have already increased global warming by approximately 1 °C since pre-industrial levels. Climate warming as a result of anthropogenic emissions from the pre-industrial era to current times will remain active for centuries and continue to produce long-time changes in the climate system, such as rising sea levels and their associated impacts. The report also points out that CO2 emissions would have to be reduced in comparison to those from 2010 by approximately 45% by 2030, reaching "net zero" around 2050.
To achieve this, Thelma Krug explains that "all low-carbon primary energy sources, including renewables, nuclear and fossil with carbon dioxide capture and storage, have a role to play". In this sense, the IPCC report acknowledges nuclear energy as an energy source with low carbon emissions. The average emissions from its life cycle are 12 g CO2/kWh, the document says; the amount is similar to those of wind energy and lower than other renewable technologies. For this reason, the report says, a significant increase in the contribution of nuclear energy is necessary.
For Ignacio Araluce, President of the Spanish Nuclear Forum, the IPCC acknowledges the role of nuclear energy and confirms that we must use all currently available CO2 free sources to meet the challenge of preventing global warming. Nuclear energy, he points out, "leads electric production in our country, as it produces over 20% of the energy consumed. It is also the source that avoids the most emissions, having generated nearly 35% of CO2 free electricity this past year". For the President of the Spanish Nuclear Forum these figures "reflect the importance and need of having nuclear energy in the energy transition towards a decarbonized economy".