IPCC sees role for nuclear energy

04 May 2007

Working Group III of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has published its Summary for Policy Makers report on mitigation of climate change. The report acknowledged the role of nuclear energy as an option for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but said that safety, weapons proliferation and waste remain as constraints.


Current nuclear power is included as a 'key mitigation technology' in the field of energy supply while advanced nuclear power is considered key for the 2030 timeframe, alongside advanced renewables like tidal and wave energy, concentrating solar and photovoltaics. 


The text states: "Given costs relative to other supply options, nuclear power, which accounted for 16% of the electricity supply in 2005, can have an 18% share of the total electricity supply in 2030 at carbon prices up to 50 US$/tCO2-eq (tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents), but safety, weapons proliferation and waste remain as constraints."


A footnote in the report states that Austria could not agree to this text. Austria was concerned that by saying that nuclear energy could have an 18% share of global electricity supply the IPCC was projecting a significant increase in generation from nuclear power, especially when the huge projected increase in overall electricity consumption is taken into account.


Greenpeace reacted negatively to the inclusion of nuclear energy in the report, stating that the IPCC had identified two "false solutions" in nuclear energy and carbon capture and storage. Bert Metz, co-chair of Working Group III stressed that the IPCC reportsare technical reviews and do not make policy recommendations.


The report concludes that there are mitigation options available that could be used to stabilize atmospheric greenhouse gas emissions. Stabilization between 445 and 710 parts per million of CO2-eq would, the IPCC projects, result in a change in global gross domestic product ranging between a 3% decrease and a small increase.

The report notes that to achieve the lower stabilization levels will require greater emphasis on low carbon energy sources "such as renewable energy and nuclear power."


Further information


Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change


WNN: IPCC reports more climate change certainty
WNN: IPCC publishes report on impacts of climate change

WNA: Policy Responses to Global Warming Information Paper