NAYGN Canadian Affairs Chair, Matthew Mairinger, was invited to attend the United Nations Climate Change Conference – Conference of Parties (COP25) in Madrid, Spain on December 2-6, 2019 and you can see the video blog HERE.

31,000 attended the conference with representatives from around the world discussing climate change – and not just from an energy perspective but also discussing forecasting data, sustainable development goals, agriculture, as well as climate change’s impact on communities.

The COP venue had many parallel activities going on – all countries part of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC) had delegation teams which were performing negotiations for existing accords such as the Paris Accord and ongoing agreements in regards to climate change. There were also country pavilion and organizational pavilions (i.e. World Wildlife Foundation, World Bank, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) which were hosting side events and providing information on what they are doing in the climate change area. Non profit organizations can apply for exhibit booths and at the conference Generation Atomic/European Nuclear Society/Atoms for Japan/Spanish Nuclear Society/European Nuclear Society Young Generation/Spanish Young Generation in Nuclear/NAYGN all banded together to have a nuclear exhibit which provided education/advocacy for nuclear. Nuclear had a very small representation but held a side event with the full write-up of their session HERE.

Nuclear Exhibit Booth
Nuclear Side Event at COP25 in the side event room

Through the conference it became clear that, even after declaring a climate emergency, many do not think nuclear should/does play a major role to reducing global emissions. We handed out pro-nuclear pins with the messaging of “wind + solar + hydro + nuclear – all clean energy” and others to remind attendees that nuclear does indeed play a crucial role in providing low carbon emission energy. We also donned the polar bear costumes and posed with attendees with pro-nuclear signs which was quite popular and was a fantastic way to start the conversation.

Overall I would say the tone wasn’t strictly anti-nuclear but we still have quite a bit of work to do in terms of demonstrating the benefits this technology provides and how it is a crucial part of getting to emission goals such as the Paris Accord. I also found it interesting that the World Bank and Asia Bank have a policy of not supporting nuclear power – they lump nuclear power in the same category as terrorism and weapons. When pressed the response was “this is the way things have always been” – an unacceptable answer considering we were at a venue which declared a climate emergency.

NAYGN is a key organization to provide education and advocacy in regards to nuclear – we are the young generation and we need to be the ones to ensure that nuclear plays a role in reducing global emissions and provides developing nations with the power they need. With banks not supporting nuclear and groups like Fridays for Future and World Wildlife Foundation not recognizing the benefit nuclear provides we need to reach out like we’ve never reached out before! As Bill Nye said “the planet is on F’n fire” so let’s let everyone know that nuclear is clean, that nuclear is safe, that nuclear is part of the solution! Hundreds of thousands are dying each year due to respiratory problems from burning fossil fuels and yet we see nuclear plants being closed down and replaced by coal – this is no longer the time for nuclear to remain silent!

Nuclear getting some love

What is COP?

COP stands for Conference of the Parties (COP):

“COP is the supreme decision-making body of the Convention. All States that are Parties to the Convention are represented at the COP, at which they review the implementation of the Convention and any other legal instruments that the COP adopts and take decisions necessary to promote the effective implementation of the Convention, including institutional and administrative arrangements.”

COP is under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and in parallel there is also the Conference of the Meeting of the Parties (CMP). In 2015 COP21 was the location where the Paris Accord was agreed to. The first COP meeting was held in Berlin in March 1995 and the COP runs every year.

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