From November 6th to 20th, members of NAYGN advocated for Nuclear Energy at COP 27 in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt. COP, short for Conference of Parties, is the United Nations climate conference and is held annually by the UNFCCC – and was formed to help achieve collective climate goals around the world. Amanda Lang (NAYGN President), Matthew Mairinger (NAYGN VP), Christy Fletcher (NAYGN Government Outreach lead), Veeshesh Sunassy, and Tucker Thompson represented NAYGN at COP 27. Over 35,000 participants, 3000 journalists, and more than 100 Heads of State from around the globe gathered to discuss the next steps on combating climate change.
NAYGN joined with Nuclear for Climate (N4C) which is a grassroots initiative gathering over 150 associations with the goal of educating policymakers and the public about the necessity of including nuclear energy among the carbon-free solutions to climate change. Volunteers engaged in thousands of conversations at the Nuclear for Climate booth with attending delegates advocating for nuclear, answering questions, and listening to concerns.
The Nuclear for Climate impact was massive:
- 2 booths,
- 2 social events,
- 5 N4C panels,
- 3 live from COP events,
- An official UN side event,
- 2 nuclear flash mobs in the conference venue,
- Public engagement with mascots – Melty (polar bear), Bella (gummy bear) & our banana costume!
COP 27 provided a unique platform for NAYGN members to discuss nuclear energy with a truly diverse pool of people. Opinions on Nuclear ranged the full spectrum from strong disapproval to ardent support. On the whole, delegates were looking for solutions that can be deployed imminently and many were open to reconsidering their stance on Nuclear. Many of these delegates visited the N4C booth, and some common concerns were about financing, safety, security, and waste. Diversity of the N4C team (the team of 98 volunteers were from around the world, speaking various languages and came from varying nuclear sectors) was invaluable for effective communication. N4C advocates attended numerous non-nuclear energy panels asking questions to engage a broader audience in nuclear conversations.
During the conference, Nuclear for Climate delegates engaged with heads of state and government officials from all over the world, such as: the Prime Minister of Barbados, the First Minister of Scotland, the UN Ambassador to Kenya, and different ministers from Egypt, Ghana, Iraq, Kenya, Poland, Morocco, Sudan, Canada, and the US. All of these officials expressed their support for nuclear energy and were open to having continued conversations. US Secretary of Energy Granholm in her panel with Terra Power CEO Chris Levesque charged up the industry by stating: “Let’s do this, you’ve got the framework; we just need the power.”
The N4C delegates also had the opportunity to share their experience as well as why they believe nuclear is an important solution to climate change by speaking to different media outlets such as: the BBC Outside, NY Times, the Guardian, France24, Forbes, and other news outlets from different parts of the world. Amanda Lang was a panelist on No CO2’s “Live from COP” webinar to provide an update on nuclear at COP27. This allowed a variety of non-COP attendees to learn that nuclear is indeed part of the conversation in Sharm-El-Sheikh.
In a win for nuclear, a volunteer from the Nuclear for Climate movement also helped in changing the official climate stance. When COP27 issued its final statement, the Sharm el-Sheikh Implementation Plan included a technology-inclusive language in its call for countries to decarbonize their energy use. In its final form, the statement calls for an “increase in low-emission and renewable energy” as part of “diversifying energy mixes and systems.” As negotiators from the 196 countries were working on the final conference statement, the language in the energy section used only the terms “renewables” and “renewable energy”—and excluded specific mention of nuclear energy.
If you are interested in being part of something bigger consider joining the NAYGN Clean Energy committee – email email@example.com to find out more!