In a stark warning, the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Rafael Mariano Grossi, emphasized that achieving global decarbonization goals by 2050 will be “almost impossible” without nuclear energy. Speaking ahead of an international conference on the safe management of spent fuel, Grossi highlighted the critical role of nuclear power in reducing carbon emissions worldwide.

The issue of spent fuel, a byproduct of nuclear power generation that poses significant radioactive waste challenges, continues to be a major concern. Despite this, nuclear energy received a notable endorsement at the 2023 UN climate conference in Dubai (COP28), where 198 countries acknowledged it as a key low-emission technology essential for scaling back reliance on fossil fuels.

Grossi stressed the pivotal impact of this recognition on public perception and policy, noting that nuclear energy already contributes more than a third of the world’s clean, CO2-free energy, rising to half in Europe. He described the inclusion of nuclear alongside renewables at COP28 as a crucial step forward, with several major nations committing to significantly increase their nuclear energy contributions.

Acknowledging historical hesitations fueled by incidents like Chernobyl and Fukushima, Grossi expressed a shift towards realism rather than a full-scale renaissance of nuclear power. He underscored the endorsement by the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which has underscored the indispensability of nuclear energy in global decarbonization efforts.

Looking ahead, Grossi assured that the IAEA, in collaboration with the broader UN system, remains committed to ensuring the safe and secure expansion of nuclear energy, guarding against the proliferation of nuclear weapons. The upcoming conference on spent fuel management is expected to further shape global strategies towards sustainable nuclear energy use.

In conclusion, while challenges persist, Grossi’s remarks underscore a growing consensus among global leaders on the pivotal role of nuclear energy in combating climate change and achieving sustainable development goals.

Source : UN News