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PRESS COMMUNIQUÉ
Paris, 8 September 2004

DEBATE ON NUCLEAR ENERGY SPARKS SIGNIFICANT INTEREST

During a session of the World Energy Congress that he chaired earlier today, Luis  Echávarri, Director-General of the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA), stated that "this debate on nuclear energy could not be timelier. The coming years will be crucial in determining what contribution nuclear energy will make to the world energy supply and to sustainable development. Experience shows that as a large-scale, nearly carbon-free energy source, it is one of the cheapest ways to reduce GHG emissions." Mr. Echávarri noted that the security of energy supply, in terms of both availability of resources and affordable prices, as well as the protection of the environment, notably from climate change, were driving many governments to reassess their energy policies and to consider several options, including nuclear. Mr Echávarri's comments came during a discussion session on nuclear power at the 19th World Energy Congress in Sydney, Australia.

In summing up the session - the conclusions of which will be presented to the WEC ministerial forum tomorrow - Mr. Echávarri said that nuclear power is already making an important contribution to the diversification of energy resources as well as to the prevention of climate change. Nuclear power currently provides 16% of the world electricity supply, reducing global CO2 emissions by nearly 10%. Session participants discussed means to increase the competitiveness of nuclear power in liberalised electricity markets and the progress achieved in providing acceptable solutions for the final disposal of high-level radioactive waste. Mr. Echávarri joined many key speakers at the congress in concluding that this 19 th World Energy Congress is a turning point in the consideration of nuclear power as one of the viable options for future sustainable energy policies.

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The World Energy Congress meets every three years. It brings together over 2000 participants from all over the world and includes energy industry leaders, government ministers, heads of inter-governmental organisations, academics and international energy experts. (WEC website: www.worldenergy.org )

News media contact, in Australia, only during WEC on 5-9 September 2004:

Thierry Dujardin
Tel. +33 6 07 44 00 76
Fax +61 2 9248 0894 (Congress organisers)

News media contact, rest of the world:

Ms. Cynthia Gannon-Picot 
Head, External Relations and Public Affairs
OECD Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA)
Tel.: +33 (1) 45 24 10 10
Fax: +33 (1) 45 24 11 10
E-mail: 
Website: www.oecd-nea.org

NEA membership consists of 30 OECD countries. The mission of the NEA is to assist its member countries in maintaining and further developing, through international co-operation, the scientific, technological and legal bases required for a safe, environmentally friendly and economical use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. The NEA also provides authoritative assessments and forges common understandings on key issues, as input to government decisions on nuclear energy policy and to broader OECD policy analyses in areas such as energy and sustainable development.