NUCLEAR CLIMATE PROTECTION
IAEA - DEC 16 2021 - Egypt can count on IAEA support in its fight against cancer as well as in galvanising international commitments to a low-carbon future when it hosts the United Nations climate conference next year, IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said in Cairo today.
In his meeting with President Abdel Fattah Saeed Hussein Khalil El-Sisi, Mr Grossi expressed the IAEA’s full support to work with Egypt in the upcoming climate change conference, COP27, and highlighted the contributions nuclear energy and other nuclear applications can make towards tackling climate change and adapting to the consequences already felt. Scheduled for November 2022, COP27 will be hosted in Sharm El-Sheik and will build on outcomes of the COP26 climate meeting in Glasgow this year, to reduce carbon emissions, phase-down the use of coal and direct climate financing and support in climate change adaptation to developing countries. The IAEA had a substantial presence at COP26 and earlier this week, Mr Grossi agreed to work closely with the UAE as it prepares to host COP28 in 2023.
“Climate change is one of the biggest challenges of our times, and COP27 will be critical to stepping up climate action,” Mr Grossi told President El-Sisi. “Egypt is an example to all – with the government taking seriously its responsibilities to address climate change, including through the introduction of nuclear power.”
Egypt is the second largest economy in Africa and its electricity production is heavily reliant on oil and gas. Mr El-Sisi thanked Mr Grossi for the support the IAEA has given Egypt in its nuclear programme. The government plans to construct four reactors at El Dabaa, 130 kilometres northwest of Cairo. The IAEA has helped Egypt’s nuclear programme through advice in project team development, licensing processes, site development, industrial involvement, electrical grids, as well as in design and safety.
The President and Director General also exchanged views on the country’s fight against cancer. In which radiotherapy plays a crucial part. In February 2022, the IAEA will launch a new initiative called Rays of Hope, to support countries in increasing access to cancer care. Mr Grossi discussed how Egypt could play an important role in this initiative as a regional hub for cancer diagnosis, treatment and knowledge transfer.
Another area of cooperation is the preservation of Egypt’s unique historical and cultural artefacts with the use of nuclear techniques. Famously, the mummy of Ramses II, one of Egypt’s most celebrated pharaohs, was irradiated in 1977 to eliminate damaging fungi and insects, and paleoradiology has confirmed the pharaoh did not have disease in his spine, helping to affirm his reputation as a great warrior. The IAEA recently designated Egypt’s National Centre for Radiation Research and Technology as an IAEA’s Collaboration Centre for cultural heritage — the first of its kind alongside France’s University Paris-Saclay.
In his meeting with Foreign Minister Sameh Hassan Shoukry later today, Mr Grossi discussed current non-proliferation challenges and Egypt’s widespread use of peaceful nuclear technologies.
Arabic atoms for peace and climate
The League of Arab States, based in Cairo, is a union of 22 Arabic-speaking African and Asian countries that seeks to promote political, economic, cultural, scientific and social collaboration and coordination between its members. In his meeting with the League’s Secretary General Ahmed Aboul Gheit, Mr Grossi discussed current developments in the Arabic-speaking world. He expressed the IAEA’s commitment to multilingualism, highlighting the growing amount of Arabic content published on the IAEA’s website and its Arabic Facebook account, sharing knowledge on nuclear technology and science.
Last month the IAEA launched its biggest radiation protection training course — the Postgraduate Educational Course in Radiation Protection and the Safety of Radiation Sources — in Arabic, allowing participants to better absorb the course’s information in their native language.