IChemE calls for evidence based solutions to deliver carbon targets at COP23

10th November 2017

The Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) Energy Centre, in collaboration with the Future Climate – Engineering Solutions (FC-ES) network, hosted a UK government pavilion event at the COP23 UN Climate Change Conference in Bonn, Germany.

As the world looks for opportunities to deliver and accelerate commitments to the Paris Climate Change Agreement, the discussions in Bonn offered a timely reminder of the importance of industry and government collaboration in developing achievable emissions reduction strategies.

Speakers from a range of sectors discussed evidence-based solutions for putting climate policies into action, calling for a deeper partnership between governments and engineers to develop effective implementation strategies.

Opening the discussion, FC-ES steering group member Beatriz Fernandez presented the findings of the network’s National Energy Planning Good Practice Framework. The framework brings together insights from developers of national energy plans around the world to understand the key features of an effective plan. Reflecting on the project, Ms. Fernandez emphasised the need for early stakeholder engagement, and equal consideration of factors such as affordability, security and sustainability.

The importance of considering the wider context in energy and climate planning was echoed by IChemE Energy Centre Board Member, Mark Apsey, who outlined the benefits of a systems thinking approach for addressing the challenge presented by the water-energy-food nexus:

“Chemical engineers don’t think about how to fix just one part of the problem – we look at choices in the whole system to understand what the best options are. We have an opportunity to decouple economic growth from carbon emissions. Systems thinking can help us realise this.”

IChemE Energy Centre, Chair, Professor Stef Simons, said:

“The considerable challenge of meeting emissions reduction targets cannot be overcome without deep collaboration between industry and policy makers. The IChemE Energy Centre’s involve-ment with Future Climate – Engineering Solutions is an example of what the engineering profession can bring to this partnership. 

“Engineering solutions are fundamental to developing coherent national energy and climate plans and COP23 is an excellent platform for us to highlight the role the sector must play in delivering them. Strategies that underpin such plans, from improving resource and energy efficiency to making the transition to low carbon fuels, rely on the expertise of chemical engineers and the Energy Centre will be producing Green Papers on these issues in 2018.”

Andrew Webster, Co-Chair of the Future Climate – Engineering Solutions network, outlined the UK Department for Business of Energy and Industrial Strategy’s Global Calculator project, discussing its use by government, NGOs and the public to explore the relationship lifestyle choices, the energy system and climate impacts.

Speaking after the event, Mr Webster said:

“This was my first time at a COP event and it’s been a really positive experience. The voice of engineers remains largely absent from the UNs climate programme, and as a professional mechanical engineer, I’m convinced we must continue to show up, and speak up. We must use our skills to enable governments, the public, NGO’s and activists to understand the technical opportunities that can deliver on climate goals, and more importantly the connectedness of their choices. Off the back of this meeting, we will work with other national engineering organisations to develop these options in our energy and climate plans.”