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IAEA at COP28: The Role of Nuclear Technology in Climate Change Monitoring, Mitigation and Adaptation


As world leaders convene at this year's UN Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), or COP28, the IAEA will host and participate in around 50 events from 30 November to 12 December 2023, highlighting the solutions nuclear science and technology can provide in climate change mitigation, adaptation, and monitoring.

The IAEA’s Atoms4Climate pavilion in the Blue Zone will feature events focussing on on four areas: energy, food, oceans and water. Low carbon nuclear energy can reduce greenhouse gas emissions, while nuclear techniques can be used to enhance global food security, monitor ocean health, and improve access to clean water — all of which are impacted by climate change.

IAEA Director General, Rafael Mariano Grossi, will announce the IAEA Statement on Nuclear Power supported by dozens of countries, in a flagship event on Friday 1 December that will highlight the role of nuclear power as part of the energy mix. The event will be livestreamed

Speaking at an  IAEA Board of Governors meeting ahead of COP28, Mr Grossi said: “For the first time in the history of COP, nuclear countries will be able to say yes, we are here, yes, nuclear energy is part of the solution for this global climate crisis that we have.”

Mr Grossi will also join French President Emmanuel Macron and Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo on Saturday 2 December, to announce the first-ever nuclear energy summit to be held in Brussels next year. The event will be livestreamed. Read more.

See the IAEA at COP28 page for the complete list of IAEA and partner events.

Net Zero

The latest Emissions Gap Report from the United Nations Environment Programme indicates the world needs to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 28 per cent to limit the increase in global average temperatures to well below 2 degrees Celsius, and by 42 per cent to limit the increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius  — both goals set in the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change. COP28 will mark the first “global stocktake” under the agreement, a comprehensive assessment of the progress that countries have made on reaching their goals to cut emissions.

There is consensus within the climate community that energy sector carbon emissions will have to be reduced to net zero by around the middle of the century to meet these goals. Nuclear power, which accounts for about 10 per cent of global electricity generation and provides about one quarter of the world’s low carbon electricity, has a key role to play in a net zero future.

What is net zero? What is the role of nuclear power and innovations?

Nuclear power offers affordability, resilience and security of energy supply and can be used alongside renewables to achieve net zero. The IAEA’s Atoms4NetZero initiative provides decision makers with comprehensive, data-driven energy scenario modelling that includes the full potential of nuclear power in contributing to net zero emissions, helping to fill a gap in studies used by governments and financial institutions in support of new nuclear power projects.

On 5 December, high level international representatives will meet at the Atoms4Climate Pavilion for an event entitled Is Nuclear Deployment Too Slow for Net Zero? The panel will relate their experiences, with the aim of dispelling the common myth that nuclear energy is too slow to help meet decarbonization targets.

On 10 December, the Atoms4Climate Pavilion will host a forum on the theme of Building Clean and Resilient Energy Systems.

Atoms4Food, Oceans and Water

Nuclear science offers more than just energy. Nuclear techniques, such as isotope hydrology and plant mutation breeding, can also help countries adapt to the impact of climate change on food, agriculture, and water availability. The IAEA joined forces with the UN Food and Agriculture (FAO) organization last month to launch a new Atoms4Food initiative, aimed at using nuclear techniques to tackle the rise in global hunger and food insecurity exacerbated by climate change.

A Ministerial Roundtable on Climate Change and Food Security: The Role of Nuclear Science and Technology will take place on 1 December at the Food and Agriculture Pavilion, in which Mr Grossi will discuss the critical role nuclear techniques play in agrifood systems with FAO Director General Qu Dongyu.

On 2 December there will be an event focussed on climate adaptation in the areas of agriculture, food security, water management and livestock. Panellists will present the climate adaptation work of their respective organizations in the IAEA’s Atoms4Climate Pavilion.

 The ocean is also affected by climate change, as can be seen in rising ocean temperatures, rising sea levels and ocean acidification. The IAEA supports countries in using nuclear and isotopic techniques to develop a science-based understanding of changes in the ocean.

On Thursday 30 November, the IAEA’s Atoms4Climate pavilion will host an event highlighting its work with the Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research (KISR) in monitoring ocean health. The Promoting Ocean Health with the Research Vessel AIMostakshif event will show how the new IAEA-KISR Ocean Health project enables innovative research and capacity building around the world. Following the event, a guided tour and a high level reception will be hosted onboard the research vessel AlMostakshif

The retreat of glaciers has significant impacts on the water cycle and water supply as well as eco-systems and biodiversity. The IAEA’s efforts to address this issue will be discussed at an event on the Cryosphere: The Impact of Retreating Glaciers on 6 December in the Atoms4Climate pavilion.

Also on 6 December, the IAEA will highlight the work of the Global Water Analysis Laboratory (GloWAL) Network, a new global laboratory network empowering countries around the world to generate the data needed to manage their water resources effectively. The event in the Atoms4Climate Pavilion will inform participants about progress made on the Water Action Agenda resulting from the UN Water Conference and will discuss how GloWAL empowers countries to develop water management capacities to support this international effort.

More than 70 000 delegates are expected to attend COP28 in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, and attendees will include everyone from heads of state to young people reaching adulthood as the world feels the effects of climate change.

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