Working towards a sustainable environment

The task of cutting greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by 2050 presents a “vital role” for engineers, including the potential for a massive retrofitting programme across the UK’s housing stock, a trade body has claimed.

The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has also argued that the UK's homes could jeopardise progress towards its legally binding emissions targets 

The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has also argued that the UK’s homes could jeopardise progress towards its legally binding emissions targets 

Responding to Tuesday’s (11 June) commitment by Theresa May to reach net-zero by the middle of the century the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET), said engineers “have to be at the heart” of the next steps.

James Robottom, IET energy and climate change lead, said: “The technology and approaches that will deliver net zero are now understood, which is crucial, but will need strong policy leadership to ensure they are implemented.

“Engineers will play a vital advisory role to ensure the deployment of large-scale projects, programmes and large investment in infrastructure is achieved in an effective and timely manner. There is also a vast opportunity for advancements in digital technology to drive efficiency and deliver savings.”

He stated that while progress had been made, this needed to continue at a great pace, and that significant challenges remained in decarbonising heat and industry. Robottom warned that “80% of the homes we will be living in, in 2050, have already been built, meaning foremost a national retrofit programme has to be seriously considered” to meet the new goals.

Robottom stressed that, while tackling climate change was a daunting task, it also presented opportunities, such as improving the skills of the workforce and developing a green economy that leads the world.

“The Institution of Engineering and Technology is fully committed to these goals and will do everything it can to assist government, industry and the profession to understand these challenges and work together to progress and implement the solutions to make the UK carbon-free by 2050″, he added.

The FPSA has espoused the importance of a whole system approach, saying that this is the best way to meet the challenges of the low-carbon transition, rather than letting the sector transform itself at varying rates.

In its most recent publication, coming at the end of its third phase, the FPSA stressed that the UK will need more agile governance to facilitate effective change, helping coordinate increasingly dynamic disruption, as well as the need to work with Ofgem, BEIS, and other stakeholders to bring this change about. Furthermore it says that there is a need for greater power system functionality to meet future requirements.

The report of its second phase emphasised the need for a whole industry vision, as well as regulatory, commercial, and technical challenges.

Yesterday the Welsh government went beyond the CCC’s recommendation and pledged to reduce emissions to net zero by 2050.

What is the role of business in delivering a net-zero carbon future?

To mark the UK’s net-zero announcement, BITC’s environment director Goodrun Cartwright has penned an exclusive blog for edie detailing some key steps which businesses of all sizes and sectors can take to completely decarbonise their operations and the systems they work within. You can read that blog in full here

edie will also be hosting a bespoke Q&A webinar on the same topic on Thursday 27 June at 1pm BST. This webinar, hosted in association with Ørsted, will bring together climate policy and business energy experts to discuss how the business energy landscape could and should change between now and 2050. For full information and free registration, click here

Greg Jones

This article first appeared on edie’s sister title, Utility Week