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SPRING/SUMMER 2001

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Nuclear: Part of the global warming solution

The International Nuclear Forum booth

The International Nuclear Forum booth (35K JPG)

Borssele Clean Energy Site

Borssele Clean Energy Site (23K JPG)

The Sixth Conference of the Parties (COP6) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change brought to The Hague (Netherlands) more than 7,000 participants from 182 governments, 443 media outlets and 323 intergovernmental and nongovernmental organizations Nov. 13 through 24, 2000. NEEP Alumna Sama Bilbao y León was among them as one of four observers sponsored by the American Nuclear Society (ANS). She coordinated the North American Young Generation in Nuclear (NA-YGN)/ANS delegation, a group of Americans, Canadians and Mexicans.

COP6 was supposed to be the deadline for participants to reach consensus on how to implement the Kyoto Protocol. The Kyoto Protocol commits industrialized countries to individual, legally-binding targets to limit or reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, adding up to a total cut of five percent from 1990 levels in the period 2008 to 2012. In addition to implementing national policies and measures at home, the protocol also establishes three flexible mechanisms to help industrialized countries to reduce the costs of meeting their emissions targets by achieving or acquiring reductions more cheaply in other countries.

Ratifying the Kyoto Protocol implies a serious and likely, a costly commitment, since it is legally binding and gives specific deadlines and reduction amounts. To take effect, it must be ratified by 55 countries, including developed countries that account for 55 percent of 1990 green house gas emissions. To date, 84 countries have signed it, while only 24 have ratified it. Industrialized countries are awaiting the outcome of negotiations that will determine the operational details of the implementation of the protocol. Unfortunately, after two weeks of deliberations, participants failed to reach an agreement at COP6.

The objective of the NA-YGN/ANS delegation at the conference was to ensure that delegates and the media appropriately considered the role of nuclear science and technology — and nuclear power in particular — in helping solve the problem of climate change. Delegates joined efforts with their colleagues from Europe and Japan under the umbrella of the International Nuclear Forum (INF), and together spread the message, "Nuclear: Part of the Solution," throughout the negotiations.

This delegation organized two sidebar events. The first one, titled "Nuclear and the CDM," reviewed the characteristics of a typical CDM project and illustrated them with the success story of the Korean nuclear power program, giving examples of capacity building and technology transfer. "Nuclear's Role in Adaptation" explained how nuclear science and technology can help humans and ecosystems to adapt to the consequences of climate change, and mitigate the adverse effects. Many official delegates, observers and journalists attended both sessions.

Another big success was the trip to the Borssele Clean Energy site, which included a tour of a nuclear power plant and a wind farm. Twenty people from several countries joined the tour, including three journalists and a Greenpeace activist.

For more information, visit: www.na-ygn.org/climatechange/cop6/

By Sama Bilbao y León

 

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Date last modified: Monday, 09-Jul-2001 13:56:42 CDT