Responsible Production

IChemE's climate change commitments

2022 progress report

IChemE makes several commitments in its position on climate change. They cover many aspects of IChemE’s own activities and the services it provides to its members. In addition, there are expectations placed on members as well as the sectors where IChemE’s members work: the Institution is committed to the delivery on these expectations.

A working group, chaired by former president Andrew Jamieson, monitors IChemE’s delivery against these commitments and submits an annual progress report to the Learned Society Committee.

It is the view of the committee, as detailed in its 2022 report, that IChemE has made good progress on many of the commitments made in the position statement, since the position was published two years ago. Many of these commitments are complex and challenging to deliver by an organisation with such a diverse and international membership.

The working group was particularly pleased with IChemE’s progress against the following commitments:

  • Providing policy advice consistent with its commitment to net zero

Net zero and climate change have been the key topics for IChemE policy work in recent years. Since January 2021, IChemE has published ten contributions to policy issues on its website. Of these, nine represented chemical engineering or general engineering input and advice relating to addressing climate issues and progressing towards net zero.

  • Offering more training courses on key carbon reduction and adaptation technologies

The Sustainability Hub, launched in 2022, was a significant step in the right direction, particularly with regards to introductory training. It is good to note that more advanced level training relating to climate change is also under development. While progress to date is good, more work remains to be done, particularly around adaptation.

  • Developing plans for achieving net zero carbon emissions from direct operations globally by 2025 and publishing greenhouse gas emissions data and progress each year

This is on track for completion. IChemE's carbon footprint is being measured. Data from 2019 onward, available in annual reports, shows a reduction in emissions over the period (largely as a result of changing working conditions). An expert advisory group has developed guidance on good practice for minimising emissions from rented property and advised IChemE regarding offsets.

  • Develop training courses and mandate CPD to provide the knowledge and skills to support members in the transition to a net zero carbon economy and in climate change adaptation

The Qualifications Committee approved the updated commitment (reflected in the updated climate change position) which ensures that the requirement for CPD retains the objective of the original commitment while aligning with the IChemE CPD policy requirements.

  • For accreditation of university degrees, enhance the requirements for the treatment of sustainability, energy efficiency, resource efficiency (the circular economy), climate change, environment and biodiversity.

The 2021 update of the accreditation guidelines to align with AHEP4 (Accreditation of Higher Education Programmes) criteria also included stronger expectations on sustainability and climate change than before. However, this is a moving target and will continue to be monitored.

  • Encourage special interest groups and member groups to hold webinars that build skills for zero carbon futures and help members understand climate risks

To the end of June 2022, 37 out of 95 technical webinars in 2022 (39%) were aligned with sustainability and responsible production, which includes climate change. (Jan - Dec 2021: 77 out of 269, or 28%). The working group is satisfied with this progress and will continue monitoring. 

  • Sponsor and promote relevant research and promote the sharing of knowledge on new developments

Data on own published research in Elsevier journals shows a strong increase in the publication of relevant research and strong engagement from the research. The working group is satisfied with the progress and will continue monitoring.

  • Establishing (practical) investment criteria to enable the Institution’s funds to be invested in alignment with climate change goals

The pension trustees have reviewed investment criteria and continue to monitor. The pension fund manager is doing as much as practically possible to ensure money is invested in line with IChemE’s commitment. For IChemE’s working capital, the Finance & HR Committee regularly reviews Environmental, Social and Governance criteria as part of the investment fund review.

  • Review the climate change position every two years

The position statement was reviewed in 2022 and minor adjustments were made. The next review, due in 2024, has the potential to be a more comprehensive review

In reviewing the statement, the committee noted that it is very good to see IChemE moving in the right direction and starting to deliver in a meaningful way against its commitments.

They pointed out that the range of commitments is broad and includes some wide-ranging and challenging items. Following through on all these commitments is a challenging undertaking that will take time, given that this a multifaceted issue and the complexity of IChemE as an organisation.

Consequently, some commitments requiring longer-term action remain to be addressed, notably what the role of IChemE in enabling society to achieve a “just transition” to a low-carbon economy should be, outreach to the public and to employers of chemical engineers, and influence in the process engineering sector. This is a task the working group will be starting to develop in early 2023.

Report prepared by Delivery Against Climate Change Commitments Working Group, October 2022