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'You don't need nuclear to get to net zero,' says climate professor Jeffrey Sachs

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'You don't need nuclear to get to net zero,' says climate professor Jeffrey Sachs
Copyright  euronews
By Euronews

Jeffrey Sachs, the Director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University, is known throughout the world for his effective strategies that address complex challenges.

He has dealt with debt crises, the control of AIDS, malaria and other diseases, the escape from extreme poverty and the battle against human-induced climate change.

Sachs is also a bestselling author, innovative educator, and global leader in sustainable development.

Euronews caught up with him to discuss the global climate crisis ahead of the COP26.

Whether nuclear energy is green or not is a hot debate in Europe. But can we actually afford to rely only on renewables?

Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University:

"Well, the sun isn't always shining, and it's expensive to store energy, but now we're seeing that the cost of storage is coming down so sharply. Technologies are improving for the flexibility and the resilience of renewable-based energy systems. There's a good line of sight to a non-nuclear all-green future by mid-century. By the way, in the second half of the 21st century, maybe fusion power, which is quite different from how we produce nuclear now with fission.

"Maybe that will come. Maybe we will have nuclear energy in a different and safer way that doesn't lead to the risk of nuclear proliferation, for example, or accidents or long-lasting nuclear wastes. And of course, always, you say there may be particular places with special challenges. But by and large, most scenarios today show you don't need nuclear to get to net-zero."

What are the expectations from COP26? Is it too late?

Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University:

"We have already reached 1.2 degrees Celsius warming. Shocking. The studies show this is warmer than any time in the last 100,000 years. We are continuing to get warmer because Earth has not even caught up yet with the human emissions of greenhouse gases. In other words, the planet is still warming just to catch up with the emissions that we've made so far.

"We're turning a corner. We need to do a lot better. COP26 is set up for the moment when we say sanity. We have leaders around the world that get it. They had better deliver."

To watch the full interview of Jeffrey Sachs, click on the media player above.