Nuclear energy, climate change and COP26

The COP26 climate change conference, due to be held in Glasgow, Scotland in November, will be the latest international effort aimed at tackling the threat of climate change.

This section outlines how nuclear energy is helping reduce emissions today, and how it can contribute to a sustainable net zero emissions future.

What is COP26

The 26th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP26)  is the next in a series of more than 20-years of climate conferences organized by the United Nations. 

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How can nuclear combat climate change?

To limit the impacts of climate change, the world must rapidly reduce its greenhouse gas emissions. Nuclear energy is low-carbon and can supply the world with clean, reliable, and affordable electricity. 

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The Silent Giant: the need for nuclear in a clean energy system

In a world centred on short-term fixes, many of the traits that make nuclear energy a key player in the transition to a sustainable world are often taken for granted.

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Events at COP26

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Delivering a just transition to a clean energy future and supporting the UN SDGs

5 November 2021 - Organized by World Nuclear Association, Canadian Nuclear Association, Nuclear Energy Institute and International Youth Nuclear Congress.

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A Path Towards Affordable Zero Carbon Technologies

5 November 2021 - Organized by the American Nuclear Society, European Nuclear Society, Foratom and Japan Atomic Industrial Forum

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High-Level Reception

Co-hosted by World Nuclear Assocaition and New Nuclear Watch Institute

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Statements from World Nuclear Association

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Letter sent to the COP26 President (16 August 2021)

A letter sent to Rt Hon Alok Sharma MP, President, COP26 from Dr Sama Bilbao y Leon, Director General, World Nuclear Association

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G7 pledges to accelerate progress on nuclear for decarbonization (14 June 2021)

Leaders of the G7 countries have committed accelerate deployment of ‘zero emissions energy’ to achieve a decarbonized power system.

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Response to the International Energy Agency’s Net Zero by 2050 report (18 May 2021)

Nuclear energy makes a “significant contribution” to the IEA's Net Zero Emissions scenario, and will provide an “essential foundation” in the transition to a net-zero energy system.

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World Nuclear News articles

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WNN: Macron: Nuclear 'absolutely key' to France's future (13 Oct 2021)

Nuclear power was at the heart of French President Emmanuel Macron's France 2030 plan for re-industrialisation

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WNN: IEA calls for commitments at COP26 to reach net-zero (13 Oct 2021)

The transition to a clean energy system is still progressing too slowly for the world to reach net-zero emissions by 2050, the International Energy Agency (IEA) says

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WNN: US DOE funds hydrogen production from nuclear power (8 Oct 2021)

A project to demonstrate the production of clean hydrogen energy from nuclear power at the Palo Verde nuclear power plant in Arizona is to receive USD20 million in federal funding.

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WNN: UK commits to decarbonise electricity system by 2035 (8 Oct 2021)

The UK government has announced plans to decarbonise the country's power system by 2035, instead of the previous target of 2050. 

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WNN: SMRs 'ideal fit' for Australian market, report finds (6 Oct 2021)

With Australia moving to decarbonise, it is time to seriously consider a role for advanced nuclear technologies like small modular reactors (SMRs), says MCA.

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WNN: Nuclear needed for hydrogen production, study says (27 Sept 2021)

To facilitate rapid decarbonisation and cut dependency on fossil fuels, both nuclear energy and renewables are needed for power and hydrogen production

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Further information

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Climate Change - The Science

Atmospheric concentrations of some of the gases that produce the greenhouse effect are increasing due to human activity and the vast majority of the world's climate scientists believe this causes global warming and resulting climate change.

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Policy Responses to Climate Change

Climate change is a worldwide problem and policy responses have accordingly had an international basis; the principal focus has been on reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

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UN COP Climate Change Conferences

Every year the UN holds a climate change conference. Our association has been involved in many of the COP event over the course of more than 20 years. 

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