The Royal Academy of Engineering today warns that the success of the Government’s Climate Change Bill depends on overcoming two significant challenges: in engineering to deliver the required portfolio of diverse technologies; and in society generally to gain widespread public support for achieving a low carbon economy.
Dr Sue Ion, Vice President of The Royal Academy of Engineering says:
“The Government has set extremely demanding targets for reducing domestic carbon dioxide emissions by 26–32 per cent of 1990 levels by 2020. In order to achieve this, the framework of mechanisms to control emissions must be simplified and secured for 15 to 20 years. This is crucial to increase understanding of the issues and to give private industry the necessary confidence to make large capital investments and commit funds to researching technical solutions.
“We must continue to reduce carbon emissions from large-scale electricity generation through a diverse mix of low-carbon fuels including nuclear power, renewable sources, biofuels and clean coal. Some of these present significant engineering challenges. Increased energy efficiency is also critical in both the domestic and public sectors, encouraging distributed generation, combined heat and power and low–energy buildings. We need to give more attention to demand as well as supply side solutions.
“The Government must invest more money in energy research, development and deployment, particularly clean coal and carbon capture and storage demonstrator projects and do more to assist the implementation of other renewable technologies such as tidal. Industry and academia need financial incentives to find innovative engineering solutions to the problems we face, but R&D funding has fallen since energy privatisation.
“Transport is the most serious and challenging sector, in which carbon emissions continue to grow. While biofuels and increasingly efficient vehicles will help, Government must start preparing long–term for a future beyond oil and to consider the potential of hydrogen and other non fossil sourced forms of energy for the transport sector.
“We need greater coherence in Government policy if the campaign against climate change is to be successful. With the DTI, DfT and Defra all responsible for various parts of energy policy and climate change, there still seems to be very little cohesion between government departments. Clear Cabinet level responsibility and accountability is required for issues as important as climate change and energy security, as is adherence to a long term plan to deliver the required objectives.”
Notes for editors
The Academy’s submission to the DTI Energy Review in April 2006 is available at Responses to government and other bodies
Founded in 1976, The Royal Academy of Engineering promotes the engineering and technological welfare of the country. Our fellowship – comprising the UK’s most eminent engineers – provides the leadership and expertise for our activities, which focus on the relationships between engineering, technology, and the quality of life. As a national academy, we provide independent and impartial advice to Government; work to secure the next generation of engineers; and provide a voice for Britain’s engineering community.
For more information please contact
Jane Sutton at The Royal Academy of Engineering