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Climate Change Report Looks at Nuclear Power, Other Options

China is among countries looking to produce more electricity using nuclear power plants

China is among countries looking to produce more electricity using nuclear power plants. (Photo: P. Pavlicek/IAEA)

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The latest in a series of global meetings on climate change opens in Bangkok this week, with the focus on technological options that can be put into place to mitigate climate change. Among energy technologies, nuclear power is seen as an option to cut carbon emissions.

The meeting is organized by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a joint body of the World Meteorological Organization and United Nations Environment Programme. The IAEA supports the IPCC´s work in various areas, including technology options for the mitigation of climate change. Hundreds of the world´s scientists and political leaders are participating in sessions.

Two previous IPCC reports this year reported on greenhouse gas emissions and their likely effects on global temperatures, which could rise by as much as six degrees Celsius by 2100. Even a two-degree-Celsius rise could subject up to two billion people to water shortages by 2050 and threaten extinction for 20 percent to 30 percent of the world´s species, the IPCC said.

The latest and third report examines a range of technological options to mitigate climate change. They include energy efficiency measures, reducing reliance on coal and natural gas, and moving more towards nuclear power and renewable energy such as wind. The report specifically focuses on ways to limit or prevent greenhouse gas emissions and to enhance activities that remove them from the atmosphere.

Background:

The IPCC was set up in 1988 to assess the scientific, technical and socio-economic information relevant to understanding the scientific basis of risk of human-induced climate change, its potential impacts and options for adaptation and mitigation.

The IAEA, through its laboratories, Department of Nuclear Science and Applications and Department of Nuclear Energy, supports and contributes to climate change studies. The Planning & Economic Studies Section in the Nuclear Energy Department specifically addresses international negotiations on climate change and sustainable development, and contributes to the work of the IPCC.

The latest summary report on mitigation of climate change will be presented 4 May 2007 at a press conference in Bangkok that will be webcast on the IPCC website. It follows the release of two other IPCC Working Group reports earlier this year - one on "Physical Science Basis" in February 2007 and the second on "Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability" in April 2007.