Nuclear societies call for COP26 to support nuclear

02 June 2021

Over 100 nuclear societies around the globe have called for world leaders to "follow the science" and recognise that nuclear energy output must at least double by 2050 to meet global net-zero targets. The call comes ahead of the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) being held in Glasgow from 1-12 November this year.

(Image: Nuclear for Climate)

The societies - representing over 80,000 young professionals, engineers, scientists, nuclear experts, environmentalists and concerned citizens - agree COP26 represents "a critical opportunity for world nations to come together and take action collectively, changing the way we think about climate and setting us clearly on the path towards net-zero."

They are calling on UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, COP26 President Alok Sharma and United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa to acknowledge nuclear's crucial position alongside renewables in attaining net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

In February this year, Nuclear for Climate - a grassroots initiative gathering nuclear professionals and scientists from over 150 associations - published its COP26 Position Paper, titled Net Zero Needs Nuclear. The paper outlines the scientific justification behind why net-zero needs nuclear and calls on all those involved at COP26 to take a science-led and technology-neutral approach to energy policy and financing.

To mark the COP Bureau meeting that is taking place over the next three weeks, today more than 100 nuclear societies around the world have declared their support for the paper.

The societies note that nuclear energy output will need to increase by 40% by 2030 and at least double by 2050 to meet global net-zero targets, as found in the recent Net Zero by 2050 Global Roadmap by the International Energy Agency (IEA). They say the UK, and the world, is "completely off-track" for developing new nuclear power as required under the IEA's Sustainable Development Scenario. A substantial increase in nuclear energy is needed in all four illustrative pathways that limit global warming to 1.5°C, as identified in a summary for policymakers of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Special Report. The four illustrative IPCC pathways show an increase of nuclear output of between 98% and 501% from 2010 to 2050.

"It's time we used scientific facts rather than urban myths to decide our future energy policy," said Geraldine Thomas, Chair in Molecular Pathology at the Faculty of Medicine, Department of Surgery & Cancer, Imperial College London. "Do you really want to throw nuclear power out of the mix to help us reach net-zero, when the scientific evidence shows it to be one of the best ways to generate energy?"

Fiona Rayment, Chief Science and Technology Officer at the UK's National Nuclear Laboratory, added: “Nuclear is a clean, reliable and sustainable energy source which in my view will play a pivotal role in achieving net-zero.”

"Young people are very aware of the climate crisis they are set to inherit," said Hannah Paterson, Chair of the Nuclear Institute Young Generation Network. "They realise that a toolbox of solutions of both nuclear energy and renewables working together is essential, and needed quickly, to turn our future dilemma around. We want to ensure that the benefits of nuclear energy are heard at COP26, so that countries can make informed decisions about technology approaches to reaching net-zero."

Researched and written by World Nuclear News