Chemical engineers can help solve the climate challenge #COP21

COP21 logoThis week saw the start of the 21st Conference of Parties, COP21. More than 190 countries and 150 global leaders have gathered in Paris, France, to discuss a new global agreement on climate change.

The United Nations (UN) event will host around 40,000 people and runs right through until the end of next week (11 December).

The future of the natural world, and the animals and plant life that call it home, depends on the outcome of this conference. If we don’t limit global warming to 2 degrees, the consequences will be catastrophic.

Polar bearWhilst we cannot accurately predict the scale of any potential impacts now, what we do know for certain is that climate change is happening, and we have a responsibility to reduce any further damage.

Chemical engineers are part of the solution, and the IChemE Energy Centre has identified five priority areas where technology can be deployed now to help mitigate climate change.

These topics, as outlined in the IChemE Energy Centre Climate Communiqué, are:

  • energy efficiency
  • energy storage and grid management
  • carbon capture, storage and utilisation
  • nuclear
  • sustainable bioenergy

Released in a statement today, the Energy Centre says: “The technologies exist now to deliver massive energy savings and greenhouse gas emission reductions in all five priority areas. Taken together, they represent a pathway to a decarbonised energy system that can be realised now, as long as the agreement made at COP21 recognises that the time has come for deployment of such technologies.”

Read the Energy Centre supporting statement here.

Stefaan Simons, Chair of the Energy Centre Board, has also added: “Chemical engineers already understand the technology needed to limit atmospheric CO2 levels. Now is the time to start using it. World leaders can shift the focus from research and development to demonstration and deployment. We can give policy makers the solutions needed to mitigate climate change.”

You can watch Stef, alongside other members of the Energy Centre Board, Niall Mac Dowell and Ben Salisbury, discuss the five topics in more detail in the following video:

Over the next few days, whilst COP21 is still underway, the Energy Centre will be publishing evidence-based recommendations that cover each of the five topics on this very blog.

Stef will also present at the Paris climate talks on 10 December at an official side event: ‘Technology solutions for a 2oC world: Investing in renewables, storage, energy efficiency and CCS‘. So if you are in Paris, please join him.

There will also be an evening screening of the his side event on 10 December at it IChemE’s offices in Portland Place, London, UK – this event is free-of-charge and open to all.

Let’s all be part of the climate conversation, and make sure that the chemical engineering perspective is heard whilst the future of our planet is being decided over the next two weeks.

3 thoughts on “Chemical engineers can help solve the climate challenge #COP21”

  1. Please reconsider nuclear as a clean source of energy, as it is as pollutant as fossil fuels when the overall nuclear fuel cycle is considered. With uranium concentrations in decline worldwide, mining, milling, yellow cake and enrichment are producing more GHGs than gas driven power stations. Not to mention radioactivity and nuclear waste hazards for millenniums to come.


  2. We urgently need to find feasible utilisation solutions for captured CO2 which do not cost too much, do not use too energy and earn some revenue. The preferable solution would be one that makes a positive financial contribution. Solutions that use solar, wind etc. energy when demand is low would make sense.


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