Fusion vision outlined at COP28

US special climate envoy John Kerry has used his platform at COP28 to launch an international engagement plan to boost nuclear fusion.

According to Kerry, the plan involves 35 nations and focuses on research and development, supply chain issues, and regulation.

“There is potential in fusion to revolutionise our world,” Kerry told the COP28 climate summit in Dubai.

His announcement comes in the same week that Japan’s joint fusion reactor project with the European Union (EU), the JT-60SA, was inaugurated, marking the start of experimental operations for the world’s biggest and most advanced tokamak.

Fusion is a nascent technology which could have an important advantage over today’s nuclear fission plants by producing huge amounts of unlimited power without long-lasting radioactive waste.

However, there are still considerable hurdles to be overcome to fusion’s producing commercial electricity. For one, scientists have so far only achieved scattered instances where fusion experiments produce more energy than is required to make them happen.

There are also regulatory, construction and siting hurdles in creating new fleets of power plants to replace parts of existing energy systems.

Kerry’s announcement also follows the signing of an agreement between the UK and the United States on 8 Nov on closer fusion cooperation. 

Many – from scientists to climate change activists to energy industry professionals – have pinned hopes on using this process to fuel the world, as it is hoped to generate more energy than goes into producing it. Unlike nuclear fission, which splits atoms rather than fusing them, and produces dangerous waste products, fusion is considered clean.