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COP27 Closes: IAEA Shows How Nuclear Science and Technology Can Tackle Climate Change


Throughout COP27, over 40 events were held at the IAEA-led #Atoms4Climate pavilion, focused on how nuclear science and technology help address climate change. (Photo: IAEA)

From providing clean energy to protecting water resources and developing smarter agriculture, nuclear science and technology can make a significant contribution to mitigating, monitoring and adapting to the impacts of climate change. This is what the IAEA and partners demonstrated in a series of side events throughout the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP27, in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.

The IAEA-led event space #Atoms4Climate – the first ever pavilion at a COP dedicated to the applications of nuclear science and technology – featured more than 40 events, all of which were livestreamed.

IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi officially opened the #Atoms4Climate pavilion on Wednesday, 9 November, at an event that brought together high level representatives from governments, international organizations, industry and civil society. The speakers included Matthew Opoku Prempeh, Ghana’s Minister of Energy; Kathryn Huff, US Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy; Cecilia Nicolini, State Secretary of Climate Change, Sustainable Development and Innovation from Argentina; Petteri Taalas, Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO); Maria Helena Semedo, Deputy Director General of Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO); and others.

Mr Grossi’s message to leaders at COP was that nuclear science and technology are part of the solution to both mitigating greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to climate change impacts. “Nuclear is here. Nuclear is already part of the solution, and nuclear will continue to be in this path,” he said.

The Director General participated in numerous events organized in the framework of COP27. On 9 November, he talked about the issues of peace, non-proliferation, climate change and energy security with William Kennedy, a senior executive editor at Bloomberg News. On the same day, he interviewed Fatih Birol, Executive Director of the International Energy Agency (IEA), and then led a panel to exchange opinions on the role of nuclear energy in achieving net zero emissions.

Nuclear is here. Nuclear is already part of the solution, and nuclear will continue to be in this path.
Rafael Mariano Grossi, IAEA Director General

Nuclear approach to the climate crisis

The #Atoms4Climate pavilion hosted side events showing how nuclear science and technology can play a role in tackling climate change and its impacts, in areas related to energy, innovations, the ocean, water, food and climate-smart agriculture.

The Clean Energy Advocacy: Engaging Stakeholders with Science to Achieve Net Zero event was joined by Richard Betts, a leading scientist from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). According to the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), there are currently no credible pathways in place to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius compared to pre-industrial levels, unless an urgent and systemic transformation is achieved. Dr Betts called for all available means to slow down the global temperature rise and suggested taking advantage of the benefits offered by nuclear power.

An event, Carbon Removal Using Coastal Blue Carbon Ecosystems, showed how the absorption of CO2 by the ocean provides a nature-based solution for reducing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere. A complementary event showing the other side of the coin, Ocean Acidification Adaptation and Resilience in Africa, gathered marine experts to discuss how nuclear and isotopic techniques help assess ocean acidification. They focused on the need to support countries on the African continent in analysing the CO2 uptake of the ocean and understanding how to better protect marine resources.

The Sustainable Water Resource Management: Successes and Challenges in the Sahel event focused on building capacity for managing the scarce water resources and its role in promoting regional cooperation in northern Africa’s Sahel region. The IAEA assists countries in using isotope hydrology, which allows experts to track the movement of water molecules through the hydrological cycle, thereby helping address the issues of water scarcity. Other similar events focused on applying nuclear and related techniques to study and protect the world’s wetlands, as well as monitoring and managing water coming from glaciers in mountainous regions.

Other sessions focused on food and agriculture included a Gender-Responsive Climate Action in African Agriculture Using Nuclear Science and Technology event, which highlighted the successes and positive results in scaling up climate-smart agriculture. Experts attending the Global Action for Climate Adaptation: Science for the Future event also touched on the ways of adapting agriculture to climate change by growing drought-resistant crops with the help of plant mutation breeding.

See the full list of IAEA and partner events held at the #Atoms4Climate pavilion at COP27, and learn more about nuclear solutions for climate change.

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