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Newly appointed International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi told the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 25) on 11 December that greater use of low-carbon nuclear power is needed to ensure the global transition to clean energy, including to back up variable renewables such as solar and wind.

Global emissions of greenhouse gases reached a record high last year, and Grossi said the greater deployment of a diverse mix of low-carbon sources such as hydropower, wind and solar, as well as nuclear power and battery storage, will be needed to reverse that trend and set the world on track to meet climate goals.

“We should not see nuclear energy and renewables as being in competition with one another,” he said in Madrid at a side event on Sustainable Development Goal 7 (SDG 7) – to ensure access to affordable and reliable energy. “We need to make use of all available sources of clean energy.”

He said: “Nuclear power offers a steady, reliable supply of electricity. It can provide continuous, low-carbon power to back up increasing use of renewables. It can be the key that unlocks their potential by providing flexible support—day or night, rain or shine.”

Grossi said nuclear power needs a place at the table where the world’s energy future is decided, and that he was encouraged by his talks with other international organisations and their willingness to work with the IAEA towards a cleaner climate.

He underscored the symbolism of coming to COP 25 just one week after taking office. “This reflects the importance of the issue and my firm belief that nuclear science and technology have an important role to play in helping the world to address the climate emergency,” he said. “That view is shared by many of the IAEA’s 171 member states.”

Photo: Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi at COP 25 (Photo Credit:  J. Donovan/IAEA)

Date: Friday, 13 December 2019
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