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Planning & Economic Studies Section (PESS):
Capacity Building for Sustainable Energy Development

Climate Change and Sustainable Development

Within the Nuclear Energy Department, PESS addresses new international agreements on climate change and sustainable development.

Nuclear Power has a great deal to contribute to mitigating climate change, IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano told policymakers at the 23rd World Energy Congress. Please click here to learn more about his visit to Istanbul, Turkey, on 12 October 2016, where policies to address climate change in the midst of the rising demand for energy were discussed. Mr Amano said that it was difficult to envisage a low-carbon future, in which global warming is limited to less than 2° centigrade compared to pre-industrial levels, without nuclear power.

In November 2015, world leaders came together to agree on firm climate targets, holding the increase in global average temperature from pre-industrial levels to well below 2°C, the threshold at which most experts believe the worst impacts from climate change can still be avoided, and pursue efforts to limit the rise to 1.5°C. A first step towards achieving the Paris Agreement goal is for all countries to meet their initial Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) pledges. Nuclear power plants produce virtually no greenhouse gas emissions or air pollutants during their operation and have only very low emissions over their entire life cycle. In addition to the Paris Agreement, the United Nations resolution on "Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development" was adopted in 2015. This Agenda calls on countries to begin efforts to achieve 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) over the next 15 years, focusing on five elements: people, planet, peace, prosperity and partnership. Nuclear power is not only a powerful source of electricity, it contributes to many of the sustainable development goals. Nuclear power is a large-scale, low-greenhouse gas energy source that can continue to make a significant contribution to the Paris Agreement 2°C goal and the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

The links below connect to summaries, IAEA inputs and general information for key negotiations at international conferences and studies.