UNDP, IAEA Highlight Mitigation Potential of Nuclear Energy in Asia Pacific

5 March 2013: The UN Development Programme (UNDP) Asia Pacific Regional Centre (APRC) has released a background paper commissioned by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that recommends the deployment of nuclear energy as an approach to mitigating climate change and increasing energy security.

The paper, titled “Nuclear Energy in Combating Climate Change in Asia and the Pacific,” reports on a range of carbon dioxide-intensity in different countries in the region: low intensity in countries such as Nepal and New Zealand due to a higher share of renewable energy; moderate intensity in Japan and the Republic of Korea due to a large share of nuclear power; and high-intensity in India, China and Australia. It also highlights the role of energy in addressing the challenges of sustainable development, noting that some countries in the region derive over half their energy from heavy-polluting biomass fuel.

The paper proposes nuclear power as an option for large and populous countries that currently do not have any legally-binding reduction targets under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) but produce a large share of carbon emissions. It identifies those countries that already utilize nuclear energy and have a strong domestic technology base as those with the greatest potential to benefit from further investment in nuclear power, including China, India, Japan, Pakistan and the Republic of Korea.

On energy security, the paper argues that the price of uranium has less influence on the cost of nuclear-based electricity, as opposed to coal and gas, and that uranium reserves are available from politically-stable and diverse regions. Noting the high cost of nuclear power development, however, the paper cautions that such investments should be made in the context of stable government policies, strong regulatory regimes and adequate risk allocation schemes. [Publication: Nuclear Energy in Combating Climate Change in Asia and the Pacific] [UNDP APRC Environment and Energy Webpage] [IAEA Website]