The COP 15 Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen:
ENS-YGN side event: « Meeting young European engineers in an open discussion about nuclear and sustainability »
COP 15: “Kyoto 2” at stake
The United Nations’ COP15 conference (Conference of the Parties to the United Nations’ Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) took place in Copenhagen, Denmark from 7th to 18th December 2009. The objective was to establish the basis for a post-2012 agreement for a global CO2 emissions regulation. This required all signing parties to agree on individual targets for emission reductions.
This ambitious goal raised huge interest amongst NGOs. Between 45000 and 50000 thousand participants from national delegations and NGOs, as well as observers, were registered to attend this major event. A discrepancy between the capacity of the conference hall and the demand for entry lead to access problems, especially during the second week of the conference. Only one third of the registered participants were finally granted access to the building. Several hours of queuing (frequently 6 to 9 hours) were necessary to get a precious entry badge.
ENS-YGN in charge of the only “nuclear” side event
The European Nuclear Society and the Young Generation Network represented the nuclear community, along with WNA/FORATOM and IAEA, by organising a side event entitled: Meeting young European engineers in an open discussion about nuclear and sustainability. WNA/FORATOM and the IAEA had booths located within the main hall. They hosted many visitors, who were given extensive documentation. Six YGN members from across Europe were part of the nuclear delegation: Neil Crewdson (UK-YGN, Sellafield), Arnaud Meert (Belgian Nuclear Society, Westinghouse), Steven Knol (Dutch YGN, NRG) Alexey Lokhov (French Nuclear Society YGN, CEA), Matthias Horvath (Swiss and Spanish-YGN, ENUSA) and Edouard Hourcade (Chairman of ENS-YGN, CEA). To prepare the ENS-YGN contribution to the event a 15-man team had been very active for more than six months prior to the conference.
Like in Poznan (COP14), hundreds of applications came from NGOs, keen to seize the few precious slots planned for official side events over the 2 week conference period. Once gain, the organisers had to go through a strict selection process and strongly encouraged the merging of side events. ENS-YGN merged with WNA and ended up organising the only side event dealing with nuclear energy.
A high quality panel
ENS-YGN gave the floor to three panellists:
Arnaud MEERT from the Belgian YGN, presented several assessments of CO2 emissions released from nuclear energy. He pointed out that fuel cycle steps have an important impact upon these figures which are, consequently, very country-specific.
Christian STOFFAES (CEPII) presented global scenarios comparing nuclear energy and bio fuels emissions targets.
Jan Horst KEPPLER (OECD/NEA) concluded the presentations with a broad view of the political and economical challenges of addressing climate change that face the nuclear community.
Alexey Lokhov and Edouard Hourcade moderated the debate.
Questions were raised by the audience about uranium resources and waste management. The living conditions of workers and of populations living close to nuclear facilities were also debated. Finally, many more informal discussions carried on between speakers and participants, whilst sharing Danish pastries.
Innovative communications materials
Hundreds of pamphlets, which featured cartoons and facts and figures about nuclear energy - more specifically on safety and security, waste management and nuclear and CO2, - were distributed in order to address some of the typical concerns that people have about nuclear energy. These materials were widely distributed all over the conference and in particular the participating countries’ booths.
The event organized by ENS-YGN was considered a success by many of the participants. We offered them much-appreciated technical information and made clear what the contribution of nuclear energy as a mitigation option really is.
Our thanks go to ENS, NRG, Westinghouse, Sellafield Ltd, WNA and CEA for their great support for the event.
Chair ENS-YGN 2009-2011