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Solutions for Climate Change: the IAEA and CoP26

Climate change is the greatest environmental challenge of our time. If the world is to meet the agreed climate goals within the available time frame, we need mature, readily deployable solutions.

Nuclear technology and applications contribute to tackling climate change. Nuclear power provides 10% of the world’s electricity, which is around a third of global low carbon electricity. Nuclear technology also helps in coping with the consequences of climate change and in analysing and better understanding the climate change phenomenon.

What does nuclear science and technology bring to the table?

Nuclear power makes a significant contribution to climate change mitigation. The use of nuclear power has avoided the equivalent of around 70 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide emissions over the last half century. Nuclear power already provides the bulk of clean energy in several countries. In the future, nuclear power can help to decarbonize hard to abate sectors such as transportation and industry and play a significant role in 2050 carbon neutrality, including by producing low-carbon hydrogen. See our pages on nuclear power and climate change.

Nuclear power is reliable. Its steady production, regardless of whether the sun shines or the wind blows, is suitable to sustain a modern economy and can help replace coal. Its flexibility and reliability stabilize electrical grids and ensure the security of electricity supply. See how nuclear provides secure and flexible electricity supply.

Nuclear energy is resilient. The nuclear sector has often proven its resilience against extreme weather events. It offers steady jobs and fuels economic growth. Read more on the resilience and safety of nuclear power in the face of extreme events.

Nuclear technologies help preserve soil and freshwater resources, support climate-smart agriculture, and enable the development of more resilient crops, improving food security. In short, they help countries adapt to climate change. See our pages on climate smart agriculture.

Nuclear applications help us to understand climate change and how we can deal with it. Nuclear techniques help monitor greenhouse gas emissions. They increase our understanding of how the atmosphere, the oceans and other ecosystems change and what consequences this brings. See how nuclear science and technology is used for climate change adaptation.

Nuclear and isotopic techniques can be used to determine soil erosion rates and develop land management policies to adapt to climate change. (Photo: E. Fulajtar/IAEA)

Meeting ambitious goals requires collaboration

Nuclear power has a lot to contribute. IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said it should have a “seat at the table” at climate change discussions. The IAEA provides the scientific and technical facts at every international forum, with the goal of informing political leaders, industry, scientists and civil society about the benefits of nuclear power and nuclear science and technology. As the only world forum in the nuclear field, the IAEA will continue to contribute to an informed debate on the benefits of nuclear power and applications in the many international events that will take place, including COP26, where political leaders, industry, scientists and civil society will discuss the way forward.

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