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Climate Emergency Declaration

Are we, as the IET, declaring a climate emergency? 

It's really that simple a topic, should we be adding our professional voice to the growing number of countries and organisations declaring such an event, to bring better awareness of the threat of the climate crisis and to encourage more discussion in addressing it! 

  • In response to several points in this thread.

    I don’t think that the IPCC’s modelling is bad. The problem is the political interpretations that are mostly what we get to see, not the whole picture.

    Looking at the IPCC’s AR6 Working Group Technical Summary (page 26)

    There is quite a clear graphic of the current state of modelling and the ranges of uncertainty.


    Extinction Rebellion, Greenpeace, WWF, etc. base their views on the high ECS and highest modelled CO2 loading. This is where they claim we are all going to burn but this isn’t going to happen. Somewhere in the middle is a reasonable value of ECS (which seems to be falling over time) and a sensible CO2 loading, probably a bit better than business as usual, somewhere between 2.6 and 4.5. The projections here suggest a problem not an emergency.

    What can we do to resolve this problem? What is the most sensible route considering we have finite resources and an increasing population. The activists tend to come up with what I call the spoilt teenager scenario, they want it all and they want it now, with no consideration of resource requirements or efficiency.

    Most of the current electricity generation systems have a place. I’m not sure of the true validity of wave or tidal generation and I’d rather avoid coal burning until there are rather better technologies to keep it clean. What is not clear is how the different systems interact. What is a sensible level of intermittent generation that can be attached to a conventional system before it causes losses that negate the benefits. 20% seems to be an oft quoted figure. I think solar and wind have place but much better resource based modelling is required. What is the true resources cost of offshore wind if you take into account the cables linking to the consumers and back up for when the wind doesn’t blow. This could be pumped hydro, batteries, gas and oil, nuclear with better load following. All these have a financial and resources cost. We often get given an offshore wind cost of less than £50 per MWh but what does this include?

    New nuclear is quoted around £90 per MWh. How much is included for decommissioning? Does offshore wind include decommissioning?

    What do we do with processes that just require heat, concrete manufacture and steel refining for example? Some of the steel processes can be carried out using electric arc furnaces. Is hydrogen sensible for this? Is CCS sensible or is it a waste or resources using 1/3 of the fuel burnt to sequester the CO2 produced? Is CCS even feasible, it is a key part of the UK’s ‘Net Zero’ plans, but no one has made a practical system as on now.

    I agree that the IET does offer some encouragement to engineers but I think they should be looking at some of the more difficult questions of resources and economics. Their paper ‘Energy technologies for net zero’ is an interesting read, especially the vision on pages 113 and 114.

    The first point is ‘Electricity demand will have doubled or tripled compared to 2020’ without any mention of how or what it will cost.

    What is needed is a credible look at ‘how’ as an engineering style project plan with costs, resources and time scales. Surely this is something for the IET to produce. Without an engineering view we will continue to get papers like this one quoted on the BBC this morning:

    - Empirically validated probabilistic forecasts of energy technology costs

    - Future energy system costs are estimated for three different scenarios

    - A rapid green energy transition will likely result in trillions of net savings

    - Energy models should be updated to reflect high probability of low-cost renewables

    Does anyone on here find it realistic?

  • But the graphic you're presenting still presents a change to the climate. 

    Personally speaking, what I'm finding is there's a backlash against the activism side of things until their message resonates with people. 

    Look at just stop oil, the backlash from them damaging petrol stations has been pretty unanimous yet when fuel bills went through the roof you could start to see people supporting their message as it was partially a way to get the attention of the oil and gas firms making a bundle and not sending any of this downstream to ease the pressure on consumers. 

    Look at extinction rebellion, they have an activist side, but there are professional working groups sprouting up all over the place dealing with architecture, law, medical services, engineering, areas for scientists etc. 

    There's often a view that the activism presented is by people who don't know any better, but in a growing number of cases that's not entirely true, as groups such as XR Engineers literally exist to work towards more sustainable solutions, and bringing this information forward to make people aware. 

    If someone makes a new battery discovery tomorrow that changes everything then XR Engineers are going to be pushing that message to make the public aware of the discovery and the implications this has on emissions going forward. 

  • If someone makes a new battery discovery tomorrow that changes everything

    I feel that just about every combination of elements and their salts will have been tried by now. Doubtless lithium ion and even lead acid batteries will be refined further, but even one order of magnitude of increased capacity seems unlikely.

    If every property in UK had a battery (and inverter), how big would they need to be; and would there be enough raw materials to make them?

  • Not necessarily no. Consider Power Electronics, we'd been using silicon devices for decades before Silicon Carbide came around as a potential replacement and it actually started becoming more commercially viable. 

    Before I left working in a power electronics department I was aware this was being brought forward as a replacement to current silicon based IGBT/Thyristor modules, which are directly used in this case in wind turbine converter modules. 

    battery wise, you're thinking of it the wrong way. Think of it from a recycling point of view, if every bad segment of an EV battery was repaired seperately and transitioned to home storage rather than EV, or heck, using your EV as the storage device as V2G V2H trials have been establishing - it's not the creation of something new it's using what's already there. 

  • Bare in mind that China holds 95% of the lithium mines. So apart from funding slave labour and a communistic state while they build hundreds of coal fired generators.

    I heard a programme about the guy who developed the lithium battery and he said that this was as far as anyone could go with battery technology. Maybe one day an alternative may be discovered.

  • Hey Jon sorry for the delay, lithium isn't the only viable battery chemistry. 

    As far as funding slave labour goes, that's what regulatory framework and intergovernemental legislation is for, like the conflict minerals text or the inventory of hazardous materials (IHM)

  • The DR Congo holds significant amounts of cobalt,yet we hear nothing from the likes of XR (rich kids on a gap year who couldn't go abroad due to covid) about the destruction of rainforests and the child miners developing lung disease due to the poor and unsafe working conditions. I wonder why that is?

  • The DR Congo holds significant amounts of cobalt,yet we hear nothing from the likes of XR (rich kids on a gap year who couldn't go abroad due to covid) about the destruction of rainforests and the child miners developing lung disease due to the poor and unsafe working conditions. I wonder why that is?

  • You're kinda generalising XR there, there are working groups within XR full of engineers, scientists, lawyers, architects, doctors etc. 

    The amount of cobalt actually used in EV batteries is in decline from a technology perspective (battery chemistry depending), the obtaining of those materials from areas like the DRC needs regulatory involvement, in the same manner that the conflict minerals legislation exists.

    There's nothing stopping it being a regulatory requirement for cobalt to have an ethical supply chain declaration, from what I've seen, this is being done more so proactively by the supply chain than it is reactively from the regulatory bodies, and I say this because a lot of comments you see on EV adverts relate to the use of hazardous materials and the response from the advertisers broadly supports that they're working on this at a supply chain level. 

  • If you are really serious about climate change, then you should be endorsing a strict regime of human population controls on a global basis in order to make any meaningful change.

    In the meantime, we should wholly abandon all nuclear/oil/gas metal extraction and processing, along with 100% rewilding of the grain prairies across the world.

    That should get the c02 down to your preferred levels, but can you really be parted from your Iphone forever?

  • You're oversimplifying the issue. 

    There's a lot more to it than that, multiple industries and business functions that need to be accounted for. 

  • But accountability for the likes of multiple industries and business functions is not what the likes of XR/Insulate Britain etc will accept.

  • I beg to differ. That's exactly what they're calling for. And I've personally called out the CEO of BP on several occasions, and to be fair, he actually replied and took on board what I was asking. 

    BP announced it has "more money than it knows what to do with". 

    If you can publicly state that, you need to firstly sack your PR team, then sack the operational team as clearly they aren't feeding in the developments and sustainable projects that need to be done which could easily take account of this. 

    Having loads of money in this sense isn't a bad thing, but surely that could make a whopping dent in renewables projects, or infrastructure changes etc. to push things forward in a better manner. 

  • Well they could spent it on Clean Coal technology, we have the answer to our energy shortage lying beneath our feet, millions of tons of it.

    I don't know what planet some of these people in Govt live on. At a time where an awful lot of people are struggling to make ends meet, these cloth eared dumb idiots think it is a great idea to lump massive extra costs onto the people when this country's carbon emissions amount to only 1% of global emissions.

    Until China and India stop building new coal fired power stations, anything we do is like peeing in the wind. Why anyone advocates a greater percentage of renewables on the grid as a sustainable way forward is beyond me.

    Nuclear? You can only use the nuclear stations for baseload because they can't be turned on and off quickly.