“Clean Nuclear Energy Day” took place on November 8 as part of the twenty-sixth session of the Conference of the Parties (COP26), held in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The special “Clean Nuclear Energy Day” programme was made possible with Rosatom’s support.
Taking place at the pavilion of the Russian Federation, the programme focused on the role of nuclear energy in the fight against climate change and in implementing the UN’s sustainable development goals.
In his video greeting, IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi noted the significant contribution of nuclear energy – a clean and reliable source of energy – to decarbonisation.
The day’s key event was a panel discussion on the importance of nuclear energy in achieving both global and national carbon neutrality goals. The discussion was attended by representatives of leading nuclear energy companies and organisations, including Rosatom’s First Deputy Director General for Development and International Business Kirill Komarov, Director General of the World Nuclear Association Sama Bilbao-y-Leon, CEO of the Rolls-Royce-led SMR Consortium Tom Samson, and EDF Chief Sustainability Officer Carine de Boissezon.
In his address, Kirill Komarov noted why countries are embracing the peaceful use of the “atom”: “The majority of big economies in the world decided to develop nuclear. This is due to two reasons. One, nuclear is a source of energy with the lowest CO2 emissions even compared to renewable sources of energy. Second, nuclear is a very reliable and sustainable source of energy.” Komarov also noted what a long way the nuclear industry has come over the past few years, saying: “It’s a very positive sign that we’re here at COP26 talking about nuclear. Just five years ago at COP22, in Morocco, it was very difficult to have any nuclear talks.”
Bilbao y León emphasised the importance of addressing nuclear finance issues this year: “It is absolutely vital to secure finance for the nuclear projects. We are trying to map all the different ESG finance initiatives to understand how nuclear technology fits in all these ESG and climate change efforts.”
Speaking at a session titled 'Inclusive Human Resources Strategies for the Nuclear Sector: Balanced Diversity,' Rosatom’s Deputy General Director for Human Resources Tatyana Terentyeva highlighted Rosatom’s efforts in developing its personnel, implementing international academic initiatives, attracting and supporting young specialists, and ensuring equal opportunities for all employees – an integral part of achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals. “The impact that nuclear technology has on the climate agenda allows us to attract the best workforce to the industry, which is crucial for young people. Now, at COP26, we can hear the voice of youth in global discussions. We, as an employer, try to support the interests of each employee. One of our most important corporate goals is, therefore, to provide equal opportunities for all and guarantee long-term professional growth for every single one of our employees,” said Tatyana Terentyeva.
Boris Arseev, Rosatom’s Director of the Department of International Business, partook in a discussion on the contribution of non-energy nuclear solutions to achieving the UN’s sustainable development goals and to solving the global food problem. “Every year, people throw away about 1.3 billion tonnes of food. Basically, it is one third of food production over the world. Food irradiation increases the shelf life of foodstuff two to tenfold by destroying up to 99% of malignant bacteria and viruses,” said Arseev.
Clean Nuclear Energy Day participants were given a unique opportunity to visit the Leningrad and Beloyarsk nuclear power plants virtually and to see firsthand these important Russian nuclear facilities from the inside. As part of the tour of the Beloyarsk NPP, the audience had the opportunity to understand Rosatom’s approaches to closing the nuclear cycle. Both excursions took place in the pavilion of the Russian Federation on site at COP26 and the online platform. The programme also included a series of video screenings dedicated to Rosatom’s educational project “Atoms for Humanity,” which highlights the importance of nuclear technologies for achieving UN sustainable development goals through the stories of ordinary people from different countries.
James Larkin, Director of the Department of Radiation and Health Physics at the University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa), related the success of the first phase of the Rhisotope project, a project to combat rhinoceros poaching in South Africa using radiation technology. The Rhisotope project is being implemented by a group of international scientists with Rosatom’s support.