More than 20 countries, including Japan, called for the tripling of world nuclear energy capacity at U.N. climate talks on Saturday as part of efforts to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.

A declaration endorsed by nations ranging from South Korea to the United States to Ghana and several European countries said nuclear energy plays a "key role" in reaching the goal of carbon neutrality.

The use of nuclear energy as a cleaner alternative to fossil fuels is controversial — particularly in Japan following the Fukushima nuclear crisis in 2011 — as environmental groups are concerned about safety and the disposal of nuclear waste.