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Next Steps Against Climate Change

By October 18, 2016January 31st, 2020No Comments

By: John Gilleland, Ph.D, Chief Technical Officer

Nearly a year ago, 197 countries came together, pledging their commitment to limit total global warming to less than 2°C above the mid-20th century baseline of 14°C. The Paris Agreement signed at the conclusion of COP-21 requires all signees to submit their plan on how to address climate change in their respective country.

Just a few days ago, the threshold for entry into force of the Paris Agreement was achieved: 75 countries representing more than 55 percent of global greenhouse emissions ratified the document. It will finally enter into force on November 4, just as COP-22 convenes in Morocco. At this meeting, world leaders will need to figure out how to accomplish the ambitious 2°C goal set forth by the Agreement, especially since the earth’s surface temperature has already risen to between 0.6°C and 0.8°C above 14°C over a period of about 130 years.

But while country-to-country policy negotiations take place, individual governments and private industry can take meaningful action.

Right now, more than one billion people live without access to electricity and two-thirds of the world’s electricity comes from carbon-producing coal, oil and gas. For many, solutions to everyday problems like smog and poverty are more important than climate change.

But, a look at the Yale University’s Environmental Performance Index (EPI) offers an interesting observation. The authors conjecture that “environmental performance is an issue of governance – only well-functioning governments are able to manage the environment for the benefit of all.” They propose that human and environmental development are inextricably linked. When people live well and have access to necessities, stability and education, the environment will also benefit. So, in other words, the “twin problems” of energy poverty and climate change are intertwined. We must solve both in order to move forward.

TerraPower’s core belief is that global problems like climate change and energy poverty can be solved by advances in technology. Based on our research, nuclear energy holds great promise as an answer to these challenges. Our dedication to bring the world new technology options for clean energy reflects this belief.

People all over the world need electricity for major infrastructure, schools, and hospitals, as well as for homes and businesses. Without power, there is little or no communication, entertainment, cooling or modern heating. Electricity runs household appliances and makes it possible to store foods and medicines in refrigerators. Recognizing the way in which nuclear can solve climate change and energy poverty at the same time, I encourage private industry, governments and countries to push for the use of nuclear energy as a solution.