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IAEA Releases Concluding Summary of Conference on Climate Change and Role of Nuclear Power

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Cornel Feruta, IAEA Acting Director General (left), Mikhail Chudakov, IAEA Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Nuclear Energy, and William Magwood IV, Director General, Nuclear Energy Agency of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD/NEA) at the International Conference on Climate Change and the Role of Nuclear Power, Vienna, Austria, 7 October 2019. (Photo: D. Calma/IAEA)

Nuclear power has a major role to play in decarbonizing the energy sector to achieve global climate goals but will need enabling policies including a fair allocation of system costs to reach its full potential, the President of the International Conference on Climate Change and the Role of Nuclear Power said in his concluding summary released today.

The 7-11 October event, organized by the IAEA in cooperation with the Nuclear Energy Agency of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, drew more than 500 participants from 79 Member States and 17 international organizations to the IAEA in Vienna. It was the first conference by the IAEA on climate change and nuclear power, which provides 10% of global electricity and one third of all low carbon electricity.

Carbon dioxide emissions continue to rise, reaching a record high in 2018 despite growing efforts to deploy renewables and promote energy efficiency. Urgent action is therefore needed to slash greenhouse gas emissions in all sectors by making use of all low carbon technologies, Conference President and IAEA Deputy Director General Mikhail Chudakov, Head of the Department of Nuclear Energy, said in the concluding summary.

“Taking into account the expected growth in world population and energy demand, it was confirmed that, in order to decarbonize the energy sector, nuclear power has a significant role to play,” Chudakov said.

Over the course of the five-day conference, several key conclusions were drawn, including:

  • Innovation is needed to continue to enable the safe, reliable and cost-competitive long term operation of existing nuclear power plants.
  • Construction times and costs of new nuclear installations can be reduced by rebuilding supply chains and project experience. Small, medium sized or modular reactors (SMRs) also have the potential to reduce costs and shorten schedules.
  • Advanced nuclear technologies, including SMRs, will be essential for the future.
  • Nuclear power already flexibly operates in support of renewables; current and future nuclear technologies can be further integrated with other low carbon sources.
  • Nuclear power can significantly contribute to decarbonizing other sectors through cogeneration, district heating, hydrogen production and industrial applications.
  • Energy policies, market designs and new financial mechanisms efficiently favouring investments in new low carbon technologies are needed. Likewise, energy system costs need to be recognized and allocated to the technologies that cause them.
  • Effective engagement with the public, including by providing a factual and understandable nuclear power narrative and addressing misconceptions, is needed.

The Conference President’s concluding summary is also available on the Conference website.

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