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Consider Nuclear as Sustainable Energy: IAEA Deputy Director General at COP21


Mikhail Chudakov, Deputy Director General of the IAEA Dept. of Nuclear Energy, speaking at the side event. (Photo: IAEA/D. Shropshire)

As a clean, reliable, affordable and modern energy source, nuclear power should be considered among low carbon options and an important contributor to a sustainable energy future, IAEA Deputy Director General Mikhail Chudakov said at the Paris climate conference today.

“Nuclear energy has low life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions and has the potential, with innovative technologies, to serve humanity effectively for a very long time,” Chudakov told the audience of a United Nations side event entitled “Pathways to Sustainable Energy for a Climate Friendly World” at the COP21 conference today. “When considered in the broader context of sustainable development, nuclear power enhances energy security and reduces damage to ecosystems and impact on human health.”

At the event, senior representatives from several United Nations and civil society organizations  discussed how to ensure access to affordable and modern energy for sustainable development. Panelists highlighted the issues and priorities and how their organizations plan to contribute to sustainable energy.

Speakers agreed that there was an urgency to make the transformation in business models, technologies and consumer habits that are necessary to move to a low-carbon future. They emphasized that drastic energy efficiency improvements and fast upscaling of all low-carbon technologies, including nuclear, carbon capture and sequestration and renewables were necessary in order to limit the increase of average global temperatures to below 2 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels.

While developing sustainable energy is challenging, it also presents opportunities to spur economic development, improve health and standards of living, and reduce economic inequality. In response to a question regarding energy innovations in Africa, Mr Chudakov said that “in order to support developing economies, such as in Africa, we need to make more effective use of technologies, such as small and medium reactors that are safe, secure and sustainable”.

Taking place from 30 November to 11 December, the 21st Conference of Parties (COP21) to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) provides countries the opportunity to present their climate change strategies and negotiate an international agreement. Developing an effective international response to the threat of climate change and identifying appropriate mitigation strategies will require a joint framework. After COP21, countries will likely need to reconcile the final agreements with their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs). 

The IAEA can assist Member States in their energy and infrastructure planning, through training and tools, to meet climate mitigation goals defined by their INDCs, Mr Chudakov said. This includes support in improving Member States’ understanding of nuclear technology’s contribution to climate change mitigation and its compatibility with sustainable development goals through guidelines, manuals and training. He pointed to the recently published Climate Change and Nuclear Power 2015. In addition, the IAEA is collaborating with other UN organizations on international efforts for sustainable development and climate change mitigation, Mr Chudakov said.

The IAEA has an exhibit in the One UN Exhibit Area and is also co-hosting a side event with the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) at two different times this week:

IAEA/NEA Side Events: Why the Climate Needs Nuclear Energy

Thursday, 10 December 2015, at 13:15-14:45

Friday, 11 December 2015, at 11:15-12:45

OECD Workspace, Blue Zone, Hall 3, Plot 7, next to OIF-IFDD and Germany

The OECD/NEA and IAEA side events offer an opportunity to learn more about the contribution of nuclear energy to emissions abatement and sustainable development, and to interact with the experts present.


Nuclear energy has low life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions and has the potential, with innovative technologies, to serve humanity effectively for a very long time
Mikhail Chudakov, Deputy Director General, IAEA
Last update: 26 Jul 2017

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