1000 Gigawatts of new nuclear capacity will support an ambitious COP 21 agreement

30 November 2015

The COP 21 negotiations in Paris should reach an agreement that encourages a transition to a low carbon society by making better use of nuclear energy alongside other mitigation options, according to the World Nuclear Association.

Director General Agneta Rising said "To implement the goals of an ambitious COP 21 agreement governments need to develop policies that encourage investment in low carbon generation, especially nuclear energy. We need 1000 GWe of new nuclear capacity by 2050 to combat climate change. This will require effective regulation and markets that value low carbon emissions and reliable supplies."

The IPCC says that emissions from the electricity generation sector should fall by 80% by 2050 (1) to prevent a greater than two degrees Celsius rise in average global temperatures. While this seems challenging, electricity generation is one sector where a low carbon path has been proven with technology available today. Countries such as Switzerland, Brazil, Sweden and France have achieved low carbon electricity supplies through combinations of generation from nuclear energy and renewables.

Nuclear energy is a proven provider of affordable, reliable low carbon electricity. Over the last fifty years nuclear generation has been estimated to have avoided the emission of more than 60 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide (2). That's more than ten times the annual carbon dioxide emissions from the world's road transport (3).

Director General Agneta Rising continued: "France has shown that with nuclear energy an affordable low carbon generation mix is achievable. COP 21 must deliver an agreement that helps us achieve a low carbon emissions world."


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The World Nuclear Association is the industry organisation that represents the global nuclear industry. Its mission is to promote a wider understanding of nuclear energy among key international influencers by producing authoritative information, developing common industry positions, and contributing to the energy debate, as well as to pave the way for expanding nuclear business. We are joining with more than 140 societies and associations on the Nuclear for Climate initiative. For more information see www.nuclearforclimate.org.


(1) IPCC Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change Chapter 7 p516

(2) "Prevented Mortality and Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Historical and Projected Nuclear Power", Pushker A. Kharecha* and James E. Hansen, Environ. Sci. Technol. 2013

(3) IPCC Climate Change 2014: Mitigation of Climate Change Chapter 8 p606