Some 80 people attended a public meeting organised by the Academy on 18 November at the Science Museum’s  Dana Centre  to discuss how to reduce carbon emissions and our total energy demand. Creative engineering solutions and the challenges that must be faced to deliver them provoked lively debate, chaired by Alok Jha, clean technology correspondent of  The Guardian

The event started from the premise that scientists are broadly agreed that global warming is already in progress and is directly linked to human activities releasing greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

Dr Sue Ion OBE FREng, former Group Director of Technology at British Nuclear Fuels and a member of the Council for Science and Technology, spoke on energy generation and engineering solutions to climate change. New infrastructure, different sources of energy, demand reduction and new technologies will all be essential to maintain anything like our current lifestyle. Comparing current energy sources and demand with the situation in 1974 shows that our use of fossil fuels has changed very little since then.

Professor Roger Kemp FREng, of the Engineering Department at Lancaster University, spoke on low-carbon transport. To move half our passenger and freight transport from road to rail would require a revolution in our lifestyles. Technical “fixes”, such as rapid transit systems, could replace personal car transport but the costs of widespread adoption could be unrealistic. A 50% switch in freight transport contradicts many of the principles of competition, free enterprise and liberal economics that our governments have followed for the last 40 years.

Joanna Yarrow, broadcaster, author and founder of sustainability consultancy Beyond Green spoke on adopting a sustainable lifestyle – small, achievable things that everyone can do in their own homes to reduce their carbon footprint.

Notes for editors

  1. The discussion can be viewed on the  Academy's TV website
  2. 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

For more information please contact: Jane Sutton at The Royal Academy of Engineering
Tel. 020 7766 0636