NEA and COP26
Photo: Noah Buscher/Unsplash

The world's effort to decarbonise is one of the greatest challenges for this generation. As many countries are committing to reach net zero emissions by 2050, it has yet to be seen whether countries have the technologies and political will to achieve this ambitious target. It is clear that a serious effort to do so would require massive investments in and deployment of all non-emitting energy solutions.

All credible models show that nuclear energy has an important role to play in global climate change mitigation efforts. Existing global installed nuclear capacity is already playing a role and long-term operations of the existing fleet can continue making a contribution for decades to come. In addition, near-term nuclear innovations, such as small modular reactors and nuclear hybrid energy systems, are expected to make significant contributions to emissions reductions targets.

The NEA participated in the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) in Glasgow, United Kingdom, to shed light on nuclear energy’s role in addressing climate change.

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Publications and reports
NEA at COP26

The COP26 opportunity

COP26 was the first COP to take place after the Paris Agreement took effect and the first opportunity for countries to review commitments and strengthen climate ambitions.

Three key points the NEA made at COP26:

  • Nuclear energy is playing an important role today and can do more to help meet decarbonisation targets.
  • Continued operation of the existing fleet, as well as new builds of large-scale and small modular
    reactors could avoid 87 gigatonnes of cumulative emissions between 2020 and 2050.
  • Energy policymakers have an important role to play to create the enabling conditions for success.


NEA at the OECD COP26 Virtual Pavilion

The NEA took part in the OECD COP26 Virtual Pavillion with an online event "Mobilising climate and development finance to meet the Paris Agreement: Perspectives on nuclear energy".

Watch the recording here


Other events at COP26 with NEA participation

Ongoing NEA work on nuclear energy and climate change

The NEA has been actively working on the topic of nuclear energy and climate change for over a decade. It is featured in a wide range of NEA publications and reports that provide analysis and advice for policymakers and the energy industry.

Latest publications have focused on a variety of issues, including: highlighting the potential role of nuclear in contributing to the circular carbon economy ; assessing the costs of decarbonisation ; making a case for the long-term operations ; and shedding light on the challenges and opportunities for small modular reactors.

GIF report1 

Nuclear energy's ability to report against environmental, social and governance data collection and accounting metrics is examined by the Generation IV International Forum (GIF) in their recent report Nuclear Energy: An ESG Investable Asset Class.

Further analytical work that explores nuclear energy’s potential in mitigating climate change will continue  after COP26.

The latest NEA analysis on nuclear energy's role in addressing climate change is presented in the report Meeting Climate Change Targets: The Role of Nuclear Energy.