International climate objectives will not be met with the exclusion of low-carbon nuclear power, which has the lowest emissions after hydropower, a UN report said on Wednesday.
The UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) said in its report that nuclear power is an essential source of low-carbon electricity and heat that contribute to attaining carbon neutrality.
The report, titled Nuclear Power, said such energy has played a significant role in avoiding carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.
Nuclear power is a low-carbon energy source that has avoided nearly two years' worth of total global energy-related emissions over the past 50 years, it said.
"Only hydropower has played a greater role in avoiding emissions over this period."
UNECE Executive Secretary Olga Algayerova said: "For those countries who choose to implement this technology, nuclear power is an important source of low-carbon electricity and heat that can contribute to attaining carbon neutrality and hence help to mitigate climate change."
She said it can also help in the attainment of the 2030 UN Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The UNECE report was released in the same week that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change showed that climate change is “rapid, widespread, and intensifying.”
Currently, nuclear power provides 20% of electricity generated in the UNECE region and 43% of low-carbon generation.
The UNECE region covers more than 47 million square kilometers (18 million square miles).
Its member States include the countries of Europe, but also countries in North America (the US and Canada), Central Asia (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan), and Israel.
"Time is running out to rapidly transform the global energy system as fossil fuels still account for over half of electricity generation in the UNECE region," the report said.
It noted the nuclear fission process is incredibly energetic and releases about a million times more energy than combustion.
In many parts of the world, nuclear power plants are a cost-competitive option for generating electricity, the report said.