COP 21: An Overview of the Climate Future
An important global discussion is about to take center stage. COP21, the 21st Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework on Climate Change, will bring world leaders together to seek a way to stabilize the climate through a legally binding agreement on greenhouse gas emissions.
Nuclear for Climate, a campaign mounted by nuclear scientists and professionals, wants COP21 to recognize nuclear technology’s role in reducing carbon emissions. Meeting in Bonn, Germany, back in 2001, delegates missed this point. At that conference, they urged nations to “refrain from using emission reduction units generated from nuclear facilities to meet their commitments.” Nuclear for climate looks for a different outcome in Paris.
As spokesperson Valerie Faudon puts it, “For the general public, our objective is to be visible because, in many countries, people believe that nuclear is responsible for climate change. So we want to make sure that people understand that it is the opposite-that we are part of the solution.” Faudon is the Executive Director at Société Française d’Energie Nucléaire, the French nuclear society.
Limiting the temperature increase to two degrees this century could be an insurmountable challenge. Energy demand is forecast to increase over 30% within 20 years, brought on by a growing population and rising economic development, especially in China and India. If this wasn’t challenging enough, there is the added pressure of supplying energy to the over one billion people who currently live without electricity.
Nuclear for Climate representatives see their role in Paris as critical to educating and engaging people on this very serious issue. As Faudon points out, perhaps the question being asked needs to focus on the severity and impact of climate change. “Countries disappear, floods, wars, climate refugees.” She goes onto stress that the risks associated with nuclear energy are low. “There have been very few accidents with nuclear. The point is that what is ahead is much bigger than that.”
The Kyoto protocol, the current emissions-limiting agreement, expires in 2020. The Paris conference will give world leaders an opportunity to reach a new, binding agreement on climate change.