Vicky Ford MP: Engineering and technology will make a vast difference in tackling climate change

“We have to tackle climate change, we have to cap the global temperature rise at 1.5%”, said Vicky Ford MP, speaking at the Institution of Engineering and Technology’s fringe event at Conservative Party Conference.

“The challenge is we need to make sure everybody plays their role. Some of it is government, some of it is different organisations, some of it’s public sector, some of it’s private sector. It is all about individuals working together all backed by technology”, she continued.

The IET’s event, titled, Engineering solutions for a decarbonised world, assembled a panel to discuss how engineering and technology can help address climate change and decarbonisation.

“Technologies are going to be a key part”, stated the MP for Chelmsford, “that’s why engineering solutions for the decarbonised world is such an exciting thing”.

“We know that technology can make a vast difference

“The cheaper electricity available in the UK today is from offshore winds and that has happened because of private sector investment coming in, with the public sector, driving that change, driving the innovation,” she continued.

Faye Banks, Independent Energy Consultant and former IET Young Woman Engineer of the Year said: “We need standard policies. It really creates challenges with investors if we don’t know that policy.”

“The biggest challenge in industry is government working with industry and trying to reduce the carbon footprint,” Ms Banks continued.

Ms Ford was keen to point out that the UK is “leading the world” in fighting climate change.

“We should be so proud, I say to my schools, you need to be ambassadors across the world for what we are doing.

“We are the first country to commit to 2050 in our law.

“That commitment from our tiny island to say we are going to be responsible for protecting 30% of the world’s oceans by 2030.”

Bobby Chakravarthy, Partner, Arcus Consulting LLP and Member of the IET’s Built Environment Panel stated that “this is an opportunity for this nation to step right to the front”.

“We all know that as a nation, we are comparatively advantaged. We had our manufacturing sector, we have that knowledge sector.

“We can really bring about change by actually developing the knowledge

“That’s where we should be really putting our emphasis, focus and research and funding into as well so that we can develop those new technologies that are going to change our world for the better and we will benefit from it,” continued Mr Chakravarthy.

The Grid

As part of their wide-ranging discussion, the panel also focussed on specific schemes that the UK can focus on to achieve it’s targets.

Ms Ford, who is a member of the Science and Technology Select Committee, emphasised the important role of the National Grid in the work of decarbonisation: “From the engineering point of view, we also need to have a more resilient grid”.

“We need to have investment in the grid as a key part of the engineering solutions

“By 2025 it will have the resilience to be able to cope with 100% carbon free generation coming in to the grid,” she continued.

In helping the National Grid to better respond to energy demands, Ms Ford stated that the ‘internet of things’ is going to be a “key part in the connectivity of the decarbonised world”.

“Quite soon through the internet of things, your entire home will be able to be part of that connectivity.

“You can manage your own demand to be able to man the energy grid go further and that will help us to move towards this decarbonised world” she continued.

Ms Banks said to tackle the issue the three key elements are policy, technology and how we change consumer behaviour.”

Heating our homes

Jon Gluyas, Professor, University of Durham and Executive Director of Durham Energy Institute stated that “half of all the energy we use goes on keeping us warm”.

“The IET indicates that 85% of domestic and industrial heating is generated by burning gas in boilers in peoples’ homes.”

“33% of the emissions from the UK comes from heating, and we have hardly addressed this story.”

“We have a phenomenal opportunity in the UK to decarbonise heat.

Professor Gluyas described the idea of using former mines to extract that heat there and “use it as the base load for our heating”.

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