Sustainable Development Goal 13: Climate action

Climate change has become one of the biggest environmental challenges worldwide. Experts are working with the help of the IAEA and its partners to use nuclear science and technology to monitor, mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change and respond to the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 13, which calls for urgent action to combat climate change and its impact.

Fighting climate change with nuclear science and technology

Climate change has made water scarcity, food shortages, biodiversity loss and natural disasters more common worldwide. Researchers use nuclear and isotopic techniques to collect data on and monitor how climate change affects the environment — from the ocean and freshwater to mountains and soil — and identify sources of pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions. This data can help policymakers take science-based decisions for mitigating and adapting to climate change.

As greenhouse gas emissions, such as carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and methane, accelerate the rate of climate change, countries are working to mitigating these emissions by developing sustainable energy plans, many of which include nuclear power. They are also taking steps to improve the agriculture sector — a major source of greenhouse gas emissions — by using nuclear science and technology to study and develop new methods for growing food that also reduce emissions, such as carbon sequestration, which uses certain types of plants and harvesting methods to encourage soil to take in and hold onto more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

To adapt to changes in the environment, scientists are developing sustainable, ‘climate-smart’ agricultural methods with the help of nuclear science and technology to optimize food production in harsh climate conditions such as drought and high temperatures, while also conserving and preserving natural resources, such as soil and water. They are also researching new methods for protecting energy systems, such as nuclear facilities, from climate-related weather events and disasters.

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