Where does IChemE stand on climate change?

In December 2015, nations around the world will gather in Paris to develop a new international climate change agreement. In the lead-up to this important conference, we will be supporting the chemical engineering community in discussing and contributing to our understanding of climate change (through Chemical Engineering Matters) as well as its causes and impacts. We will also have technical meetings and wider community engagement activities focused on the many ways in which chemical engineering will contribute to mitigating and adapting to climate change (for example this will be addressed through the launch of the IChemE Energy Centre in 2015 and publication of Green Papers addressing water, food and healthcare).

We have joined with the Royal Society of Chemistry to reaffirm our position in a joint statement on climate change.

Our statement on climate change - November 2014

The overwhelming weight of scientific evidence indicates that human activity is the predominant cause of recent climate change. It is clear that the increase in carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions since the industrial revolution is the chief cause of observed global warming. Regional and year-on-year variations are expected within climate systems, but the evidence shows warming over the last half-century that cannot be explained by natural causes.

Carbon dioxide is already at levels much higher than at any time in the last 800,000 years, and continued emissions are expected to lead to significant further warming. Moreover, the speed of warming will be faster than during past natural climate change events, making adaptation more difficult. This change in climate is expected to bring changes in regional temperature and precipitation and to increase the frequency of heat waves, heavy rainfall, and some other types of extreme weather events. These will have a serious adverse effect on human wellbeing and the natural world.

The choices we make now will have far-reaching consequences. We need to develop mitigation and adaptation strategies to address the challenges that climate change poses. These strategies include developing and deploying low carbon technologies, improving energy efficiency, and changing behaviours to enable sustainable development.

The Institution of Chemical Engineers and the Royal Society of Chemistry are committed to supporting the chemical sciences community in their contributions to tackling climate change. The chemical sciences help us to understand, mitigate, and adapt to climate change. The best evidence based on the best science is essential to inform the right policy decisions on all three fronts. Already, chemical engineers  and chemists contribute in a variety of ways, such as developing new energy and carbon mitigation solutions, investigating the consequences of climate change, improving our understanding of atmospheric and ocean chemistry, and helping crops to tolerate the changing conditions.

 

Geoffrey Maitland
President Institution of Chemical Engineers

Judith Hackitt CBE
Immediate Past President Institution of Chemical Engineers

Russell Scott
Past President Institution of Chemical Engineers

 

       

Dominic Tildesley CBE
President Royal Society of Chemistry

Lesley Yellowlees CBE
Immediate Past President Royal Society of Chemistry

David Phillips CBE
Past President Royal Society of Chemistry 

 

IChemE will continue to promote awareness and understanding of these key issues and the role of chemical engineers in addressing them. We will update the technical policy pages with further activities in due course.

For more information read the Engineering the Future report Infrastructure, Engineering and Climate Change Adaptation – ensuring services in an uncertain future and the Royal Society and National Academy of Sciences report Climate Change: Evidence and Causes.

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IChemE is a registered charity in England & Wales (214379), and a charity registered in Scotland (SC 039661).