12 December 2015

COP21 agreement: IChemE Energy Centre says the hard work must start now

The Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) Energy Centre Board is calling on governments to start the hard work immediately, following today's historic COP21 announcement.

After two weeks of negotiations, the final agreement was adopted by all 190 nations earlier today, three hours later than planned. It outlined global average temperature targets as: "Holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 degrees above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels.”

In the IChemE Energy Centre’s Climate Communiqué, published in October, IChemE called on governments at COP21 to deliver an effective global agreement. Now a deal is done, it is calling on the world's leaders to immediately start deploying existing technologies in order to meet the agreed emissions targets.

Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-Moon supported this position earlier at the conference saying; “The solutions to climate change are on the table. They are ours for the taking. Let us have the courage to grasp them.”

The agreement also highlights implementation of these solutions. In article 10 it calls on parties with existing technologies for mitigating climate change to strengthen co-operative action on development and transfer.

Professor Stefaan Simons, chair of IChemE’s Energy Centre, said: "The reaffirmation of the 2.0 degree target is welcome, but the route map still remains unclear. Nuclear, CCS, renewables and energy storage remain in the mix, but in the absence of clear-cut technology pathways it is difficult to see how real progress on decarbonisation can be achieved.

The inclusion of the 1.5 degree aspiration in the Agreement is a real game changer. Peak emission scenarios suggest that this limit will already be breached. Business-as-usual is no longer an option, the only solution is a step-change in our approach to fossil fuels - starting right now.

To achieve the 1.5 degree limit, CCS deployment must be progressed as an urgent priority and this will require proactive support from governments around the world.

At the same time, we must redouble the R&D effort in order to understand the integrated low-carbon energy systems that are needed in a post fossil fuel era.

The political conversation will continue but this won't save the planet. Chemical engineers can turn words into actions, with the development of workable National Climate Plans (INDCs). The IChemE Energy Centre stands ready to support this process - chemical engineering matters like never before.”

Andy Furlong, IChemE's director of policy and communication, said: "IChemE was determined to position its Energy Centre at the heart of the climate change debate and in Paris we certainly succeeded. Our side meeting was well-attended with many participants expressing the view that it was one of the few gatherings that discussed practical solutions to the global climate challenge.

Chemical engineering will make a difference and the Energy Centre will serve as a focal point for IChemE members who are working to decarbonise the global economy."

Professor Simons presented at the Paris climate talks on 10 December at an official side event, Technology solutions for a 2 degree world: Investing in renewables, storage, energy efficiency and CCS.

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