UNFCCC COP Climate Change Conferences

Each year since 1995 a major international climate change conference has been held under the framework of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change treaty.  This treaty, agreed in 1992, has the overarching goal to "stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere at a level that would prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system." World Nuclear Association is accredited to participate in the UNFCCC meeetings as the global representative of the nuclear industry.

The Conferences of the Parties to the UNFCCC treaty (COP) meetings have assessed progress towards meeting this goal and been the venues through which governments have agreed actions and taken on legally binding obligations for emissions reductions. the meetings led to Kyoto Protocol, which set emissions targets for developed countries for the period 2008-2012. More recently COP 21 resulted in the Paris Agreement, which set a goal of limiting the increase in global average temperatures well below 2°C and to pursue efforts to limit the increase to 1.5°C.

In addition to meetings of governments, the COP conferences are also attended by a broad range of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) representing all aspects of society. World Nuclear Association has represented the global nuclear industry at many of the COP event over the course of more than 20 years. In addition, World Nuclear Association participates in the Nuclear for Climate initiative.

COP27 will take place in November 2022 in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt. World Nuclear Association will be collaborating with the IAEA and many other nuclear organizations in a programme of events, many of which will be held at the Atoms4Climate stand.

Highlights of our participation in some of the recent COP events are detailed below.

COP 26 (2021)

Postponed for one year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, COP26 took place in Glasgow, Scotland from 31 October-12 November 2021.

King Sama Bilbao y Leon summarizing the key events at COP26

The COP saw nuclear power increasingly being recognised as an essential player in achieving global net-zero by 2050. World Nuclear Association participated in many side bar events, inciuding our official UNFCCC sidebar event, The Role of Nuclear Energy in a Net Zero Future at the UK Government's pavilion and IAEA's Nuclear Innovation for a Net Zero World

Speaking in a video released during COP26, World Nuclear Association Director General Sama Bilbao y Leon said:

"It has become abundantly clear that the 1.5-degree target can only be achieved with bold actions and inspiring leadership - we will need more action, not more rhetoric. We look to our political leaders to step up to the challenge and develop urgent, pragmatic and actionable plans to make sure these promises become reality.. And for that we will be needing the fast deployment of all proven and available low carbon technologies, including nuclear.

COP 25 (2019)

World Nuclear Association spoke at the UN side event for Sustainable Development Goal 9,  held at COP 25 in Madrid.  In his speech, the Association's King Lee said that nuclear energy was a mature and proven low-carbon source of electricity, with a 60-year track record of providing reliable and safe operation. Further innovation and technological development would enable even wider applications aimed at deep decarbonisation of economies around the world and supporting sustainable development. 

See the World Nuclear News report on this event for more information.

King Lee (left) speaking at the side event at COP25 (Image: World Nuclear News)

COP 24 (2018)

COP 24 took place in Katowice, Poland. The nuclear industry and nuclear societies attended the meeting. The then-Director General of World Nuclear Assocaition, Agneta Rising, took part in a sidebar meeting on the NICE Future initiative. This Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM) initiative envisions nuclear energy innovations and uses accelerating progress toward global clean energy goals.  NICE Future sees no one-size-fits-all solution to energy and fosters collaboration among clean energy supporters in exploring diverse solutions. Read our press release.

Agneta Rising speaks at the NICE Future Intiiative sidebar meeting at COP24

There was also a side event from Nuclear for Climate , discussing an inclusive energy mix as the only effective way to reduce carbon emissions. This mix should include every available low-carbon technology, including nuclear, as this will be result in the fastest path for achieving a low carbon energy portfolio. Nuclear for Climate also have a booth, where delegates can meet and discuss issues throughout the COP 24 meeting.

COP 22 (2016)

The COP 22 meeting in Marrakech, Morocco, saw governments take the first steps to implementing the objectives of the Paris Agreement.

World Nuclear Association issued a press release ahead of the COP 22 meeting; 
Nuclear energy needed to enable Paris Agreement to be met: 4 November 2016

At COP 22 Agneta Rising, the then-Director General of World Nuclear Association, took part in a press conference  on the theme of “Forming energy of future: role of nuclear industry in global  reduction of CO2 emissions.”


A Rosatom press release is available here:
ROSATOM Took Part In UNFCCC COP22 Conference On Climate Change

World Nuclear Association also issued a press release, available here: 
Nuclear must be part of the international response to climate change: 17 November 2016 

The press conference was also covered by World Nuclear News:
Nuclear vital to challenge of climate change 18 November 2016

COP 21 (2015)

The COP 21 meeting led to the Paris Agreement, which requires governments to limit the rise in global temperatures to less than two degrees Celsius, and to aim for 1.5 degrees. 

Ahead of the meeting World Nuclear Association issued a press release setting out the case that 1000 gigawatts of new nuclear capacity would help support the aims of COP 21:
1000 Gigawatts of new nuclear capacity will support an ambitious COP 21 agreement: 30 November

Agneta Rising took part in in a debate at the International New York Times Energy for Tomorrow conference in Paris on December 9. Her comments were summarised in the following press release:

Nuclear industry stands ready to help tackle climate change: 9 December 2015

Four leading climatologists, Dr. James Hansen, professor at the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Columbia University and former head of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, Dr. Kerry Emanuel, a professor of atmospheric science at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dr. Tom Wigley, a climate scientist at the University of Adelaide and Dr. Ken Caldeira, a climate scientist at the Carnegie Institution for Science, and at the Stanford University Department of Earth System discussed the role of nuclear energy as part of a low carbon mix for electricity generation. 

See video highlights