Memorandum submitted by the Institution
of Civil Engineers (ICE) (U26)
The Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) is
a UK-based international organisation with over 75,000 members
ranging from professional civil engineers to students. It is an
educational and qualifying body and has charitable status under
UK law. Founded in 1818, ICE has become recognised worldwide for
its excellence as a centre of learning, as a qualifying body and
as a public voice for the profession.
The Institution commends the actions taken to
date to reduce the emissions of greenhouse gases, but expresses
concern that much more needs to be done to maintain these reductions
in the longer term. The problem encompasses domestic, commercial
and industrial energy use, as well as changes in energy production.
Renewable generation is only likely to account for a small proportion
of the national energy requirement unless large-scale projects
are considered. Other forms of generation, with low emissions
will be required to achieve substantial reductions in greenhouse
1.1 Climate change is a key part of the
debate on sustainability and it is now commonplace to ascribe
exceptional weather conditions as being caused by global warming.
The evidence suggests that these issues affect all parts of our
lives. Climate change gases arise directly from the various energy
industries as well as transport, other industries, commercial
operations and domestic life. Nature itself can also produce climate
change gases in such examples as volcanic eruptions and coal bed
methane. So the problem is widespread and must be considered in
terms of the sum of many parts.
1.2 We can either accept that the climate
is changing and attempt to deal with the changes as they arise,
or we can try to prevent or minimise the changes in climate.
1.3 The UK has accepted the policy of prevention,
or reduction in climate change, but as the UK only contributes
about 2% of climate change gases, we must use international persuasion
to influence the producers of the other 98%.
2.1 The world has ample resources of coal
and uranium, and sufficient significant remaining resources of
natural gas and oil, and of course renewable resources such as
wind, solar and tidal. We might conclude that there is no shortage
of energy sources, either now or in the years to come. But the
issue now is that of the financial and environmental cost of energy
conversion. Converting fossil fuel to heat or electrical power
is of relatively low financial cost, but the environmental burden
created by emissions is substantial. To compound this, energy
growth per head is increasing, population is increasing and the
peak demand for power is increasing. The challenge now is to reduce
the environmental burden of energy conversion at a cost that is
acceptable to society. A key part of this will be to reduce individual
2.2 The substantial price rises during the
summer of 2004 (leading to some of the highest prices ever) suggest
that the world is facing short-term energy shortages. Some reports
suggest that oil resources are only sufficient for another 40
years and gas for 60 years. The current shortages are exasperated
by the demand from China and the Far East. It is usually difficult
to notice the peak of a curve until the cliff edge is reached,
but our planning should recognise that a peak in the oil and gas
industries must be imminent. The USA is now acknowledging that
it is now an energy importer and this will also drive up the price
of raw energy. The costs of production of the remaining stocks
of oil and gas will continue to rise.
2.3 Although coal resources are extensive,
(perhaps up to 200 years)"environmentally friendly
coal" with low NOX and SOX content is limited and so the
price of coal has also reached unprecedented levels. The LCPD
(Large combustion plant directive) in the UK restricts the choice
of coal sourcesand countries who choose to implement similar
environmental constraints to the UK will be forced to follow suit.
This will raise demand for clean coal and increase the costs.
Although this will benefit the environment in the long-term, it
will impact UK industry, commerce and society in the short and
2.4 Recognising the priority for minimising
climate change, we should seek to adopt other sources of energy
during the planning period up to 2050.
3. CO2 REDUCTION
3.1 The UK Government's policy to meet its
targets for CO2 reduction depends for a large part
on increasing the proportion of renewable generation for the production
of electricity to 10% by 2010 and onwards. The Institution is
concerned that these targets are unrealistic and thereby setting
a false hope that the nation will decrease its emissions.
3.2 Overall energy consumption is increasing.
Almost as fast as energy efficiency is introduced, more and more
demands are placed on the electricity network, both domestically
and in the work place. The National Grid has had to revise upwards
its forecast for generation capacity.
It is very unlikely that the UK will be able to satisfy its increased
demands for electricity solely from the expected growth in windpower.
Other forms of renewable generation, such as solar pv, and geothermal
do not offer a credible solution for providing more than a few
per cent of the nation's electricity. We welcome initiatives to
increase the adoption of solar pv both in the UK and worldwide,
but nevertheless the Institution continues to press for a debate
on the longer-term security of supply issue. This debate must
consider renewal of the nuclear power industry and serious consideration
of tidal power barrages.
3.3 There is an additional requirement to
differentiate between energy production and power requirement.
Even if the UK could produce more than 20% of its electrical power
from renewable resources, there would need to be major changes
in the electrical infrastructure for electrical energy storage
to make the power available when required. To put this simply,
more generation is required than would be calculated directly
from the theoretical annual production from renewable resources.
3.4 The UK's reliance on imported natural
gas is an insufficient response. It was a fortuitous co-incidence
that a large proportion of power generation switched from coal
to natural gas during the early 1990's. This brought together
several threads: improved combined cycle gas turbine efficiency
(CCGT), the lifting of the embargo on generation from natural
gas and the privatisation of the power industry. The reductions
in emissions have now been obtained, and there will only be marginal
gains from natural gas. The UK is close to its 12.5% Kyoto target.
CO2 decreased by 7.5% between 1990 and 2003 despite
an 8% rise in consumption. We do note that there was a 1.5% increase
in CO2 emissions in 2003. The switch to natural gas
is also reflected in the average figures for the EU.
3.5 The UK Government's aim of reducing
CO2 by 20% by 2010 hinges crucially in reducing coal
burnt in power generation. Reductions to date have all come from
a switch from coal to gas burn for electricity generationthe
other sectors totalling 82% of energy use, in commercial and domestic
heating and transport have achieved no real savings. The split
of the latter two is roughly 40% each of the total. CO2
from domestic and commercial heating and vehicles are inexorably
rising with no likely curtailment in the short term. We agree
with a journalist from the Guardian who states " we are on-track
to miss by a mile our commitment to reduce emissions by 20% by
2010, although we would easily meet the far lower target required
under the still un-ratified Kyoto agreement." Cambridge Econometrics
say: "Emissions from power generation are likely to drop
by 5.5%, largely because of the investment in wind power, but
those from domestic and transport sources are rising steeply undermining
the push to renewables. Emissions from road transport will, by
2010, rise by 14% from 1990 levels."
3.6 The environmental audit committee of
the Commons reported in August 2004 that the Government's energy
strategy was now "seriously off course" and "that
more imaginative and radical" policies were needed for transport.
Transport's share of UK emissions, it says will rise from 18.7%
to 26.3% in 2010. Air transport has almost doubled between 1990
and 2002. The government since taking office has presided over
a 17% increase in road traffic. There is very little enthusiasm
within the UK for the preparation of liquid fuels such as bio-diesel
made from renewable resources, which might show some small savings.
3.7 Europe is on course to fail to meet
even its low Kyoto target of 5.2% cuts in emissions on 1990 figures
by 2012. According to the European Environment Agency, overall
emissions are only 2.1% lower than in 1990. Only France, Germany,
Sweden and the UK are likely to meet their targets whilst Spain,
Portugal, Ireland, Austria, Italy, Denmark and Greece are all
expected to overshootsome substantially. Most OECD countries
have the same problems as Britain: carbon dioxide emissions from
vehicles in Europe will rise by 30% by 2010. Energy conservation
particularly in road and rail transport will therefore be key
to reducing CO2 emissions.
3.8 Although the wind development programme
is key to the success of a worthwhile renewable programme in the
UK and the programme has been enhanced by the introduction of
ROCs, other large scale renewable generation needs to be considered
in order to extend our energy resources. The next wave of renewable
energy sources is in the marine sector, in particular tidal flow
and wave energy. The UK should be persuaded to invest heavily
in this area and bring forward commercially viable technologies
that could fall within the ROC catchment for energy companies
and the utilities to implement. This will not be possible without
significant investment and R&D into this fledgling industrywith
significant long-term downstream benefits to UK's civil/marine
engineering industry as well as to the nation's energy resources.
3.9 Renewables may not address all of our
concerns about the security of our energy suppliesbut they
are wholly indigenous once constructed, which is increasingly
not the case with conventional generation. The Institution continues
to argue for the UK to adopt as broad a fuel mix as possible as
the cornerstone of its energy strategy.
3.10 The hydrogen economy is still many
years away. Hydrogen should be seen as an energy vector, and not
as a fuel source. As an energy vector it currently has a low through
efficiency. Unless the hydrogen is produced from totally non-emitting
sources, such as hydrolysis using wind power or hydro power there
is little to be gained. We are also concerned that the effects
of hydrogen in the upper atmosphere are not understood. Estimates
of hydrogen leakage vary from 0.1% to as much as 10% when transported.
We also note that despite widespread research on the development
of the hydrogen infrastructure, there has been little attention
paid to the use of the oxygen that is also produced during the
hydrolysis process. It is claimed that hydrogen would offer a
credible form of energy storage, but there is not yet sufficient
evidence to conclude that problems would be solved by use of a
hydrogen infrastructure. The PIU reported
that to produce sufficient hydrogen for transport in the UK would
require more energy than our present electrical consumption. Even
a small proportion of the worldwide speculative investment in
fuel cells and hydrogen infrastructure would make a significant
difference to stimulating development of other more near term
3.11 Although hydrogen is seen as replacement
fuel for road transport, care needs to be taken that the problem
is not simply shifted from the city centre to an electrolysis
plant. For unless the hydrogen is produced from surplus renewable
energy, its value in displacing CO2 is doubtful. There
is a small societal credit to be gained from encouraging individuals
to behave more responsibly, but large savings in CO2
production are not likely in the short term.
4.1 The UK is not the only participant in
the programme to minimise climate change, and international agreements
are therefore a necessary activity. However the record of participation
in international agreements is not good. Several countries are
seeking to increase their emissions under the Kyoto agreements,
and many countries are taking little action to participate. This
means that if the UK takes its responsibilities seriously, it
is penalising itself through additional economic and technical
burdens against its competitors who are avoiding such action.
This should not mean that the UK withdraws from these agreements,
but we should redouble our efforts to not only meet the targets,
but also persuade other countries so to do, and furthermore, encourage
British industry to benefit in the process.
4.2 It is very noticeable that EU legislation
is often conveniently ignored. A survey of environmental compliance
indicated that no single EU state (as of January 2004) meets the
1.5% implementation deficit target for environmental internal
Only two out of the 15 have improved their performance since late
2002. In the two most dramatic shifts, Sweden's deficit has expanded
from nothing to nearly 6%, while the Netherlands' has spiralled
from 1.2% to 10.6%.
INTERNAL MARKET DIRECTIVES NOT IMPLEMENTED
4.3 Nine member states have still not implemented the
EU's 2001 directive on deliberate release of genetically modified
organisms. Eight have not implemented the 2002 ozone pollution
directive. Meanwhile, six each have not implemented the 2000 end-of-life
vehicles directive, the 2000 waste incineration directive and
the 2001 national emission ceilings directive.
4.4 Radical agendas require radical measures. Wide ranging
legislation across a wide variety of topics appears to lead to
widespread avoidance of compliance. Using EU directives as a means
of stabilising climate change simply adds to the burden of red
tape affecting industry and commerce. Changing the industrial
lifestyle will require more than restrictive directives. Leaving
choice to the market is also likely to be ineffective.
IN GHG EMISSIONS
5.1 The UK's renewable generation programme grew rapidly
as a result of the Non Fossil Fuel Obligation NFFO. A small subsidy
was paid to renewable generators in response to requests for proposals
for renewable generation. This had a positive effect on encouraging
technology introduction and ongoing technology improvements. More
recently, trading in ROCs (Renewable Obligation Certificates)
has encouraged a market that looks beyond the core technology,
but into the value of CO2 free generation. Logically
this should be extended beyond the classic forms of renewable
generation so that it covers all non CO2 energy producers.
5.2 Substantial reductions in CO2 and other
GHG can only be achieved by substantial switches to other fuel
sources. Nuclear power is one such obvious choice. Tidal barrages
should also be considered. The UK government's support for large-scale
generation switches to alternative technologies should be reflected
by an increase in industrial activity in the nuclear and tidal
engineering industries, both to service the home and overseas
markets. There is a requirement not only to plan future capacity
to meet increases in generation, but also improved capacity to
match plant retirements.
5.3 We are also concerned that energy efficiency and
energy use reduction needs to be developed and understood. Although
for example, motor vehicles become more fuel efficient, there
is no reduction in the number of motor journeys made in the UK,
thereby leading to a net increase in fuel use and GHG emissions.
Energy consumption per capita is increasing at an annual rate
of about 0.7% across the EU, and at a much higher rate in the
recent accession countries to the EU. We expect this trend to
be reflected amongst other regions in the worldin Asia,
South America and Africaas development relies on energy.
5.4 The use of energy within both domestic and commercial
buildings is largely un-controlled. With the growing use of home
computer based systems and additional domestic electrical appliances,
electricity consumption will continue to rise without any foreseeable
5.5 New building regulations such as Part L for the commercial
and domestic sector, do not ensure a minimum energy profile for
any new building. The developer's lead is still to build to the
lowest cost and not the lowest energy. Current building projects
and approved developments as part of the massive UK expansion
in Town Centre developments (supported in most part by English
Partnership funding) do not come anywhere near the low energy
options that are well-tried and available now. This includes,
better low energy lighting systems, better control and the use
of natural ventilation and free cooling options. The planning
process does not allow for the selection of low energy options,
it just relies on Part L, which is definitely not the only solution.
Energy options and energy reductions in new buildings will need
to re-addressed during the buildings' lifetimes and constraints
imposed now are reducing the opportunities for improvements later.
For example the better integration of local CHP to serve the development
of both gas fired and renewable energy are not being fully explored
or implemented. We see this compounding the problems for improving
our future energy use.
5.6 It is particularly noticeable that in the recent
EU accession countries, generating capacity has increased dramatically.
This reflects the lack of investment over many past years as well
as the need to increase the overall generating capacity to meet
expected peak demands. However new generation has improved efficiencies,
and this, together with a very modest switch to some renewable
generation has led to a fall in CO2 emissions.
|Generating capacity per
|Electricity generated per
Source: EU, Eurostat , EIA and private estimates
5.7 Although transport is a major energy consumer, tariffs
on transport are seen as a tax raising activity rather than an
incentive to restrict demand. Industry requires an efficient transport
network for movement of goods as well as personnel transport.
Road improvements to prevent congestion usually lead to transfer
of the problem elsewhere, and transfer of goods from road to rail
or water is restricted because of limited trackside access and
a high land cost which discourages open space. New housing developments
are built frequently without garage or car parking space, making
it impossible to retrofit an infrastructure for charging electric
5.8 Paradoxically, for many people energy is too cheap.
Fuel consumption is of minor concern for the purchasers of many
new cars. Recent fuel surcharges on air tickets has not dampened
demand. Even the use of outdoor patio heaters demonstrates a lack
of understanding of the social consequences of a spendthrift attitude
to energy consumption and the environment. At the other extreme,
we recognise the special difficulties of those on restricted incomes
for whom every heating bill is a major financial worry. Controlling
energy use at the point of demand is likely to be counterproductive
and may reduce GHG by only small quantities in comparison to the
larger savings that would be achieved by addressing the power
generation and transport portfolios.
6. THE EFFECTS
6.1 The Institution of Civil Engineers has recently presented
both written and oral evidence to the EFRA Committee on Climate
Change, Water Security and Flooding. In our evidence we drew attention
to many issues which affect the water environment of this country
as a direct result of climate change. The ICE has not debated
the reasons for the current climate change scenarios, for example
how much of the predicted climate change might be attributed to
global weather patterns and how much to greenhouse gas emissions.
However, it is essential that all governments take note of the
impact of climate change upon the water environment and take action
accordingly. Whilst the effects upon this country are profound,
the possible effects of changes in weather patterns to higher
temperatures, longer droughts and more extreme flooding events
will have a devastating impact in parts of the world where already
death from water related problems exceed those from any other
cause. With over 1 billion people not having access to clean drinking
water and over 2 billion people not having proper sanitation,
climate change will only make this situation worse.
6.2 The second point raised in the Terms of Reference
is, we believe, of particular note. In their roles as Chair of
G8 and President of the EC the government should use the evidence
presented by ICE to the earlier Committee to emphasise the impacts
of climate change upon these essential aspects of everyday life
in developed countries and thereby draw attention of other world
leaders to the probable impacts upon developing world. The UK
is fortunate in having a number of centres of excellence and world
class research into climate change. It is essential that the UK
Government builds upon this platform.
6.3 The ICE recognise that previously submitted evidence
is not usually considered at a subsequent committee, however the
closeness of the subjects and the inter-relationship between water
and climate change leads us to believe that the committee should
take our previous evidence as being suitable for the terms of
reference under Climate ChangeLooking Forward.
7.1 We therefore recommend a review of national policy
in the following areas:
1. Reduction of UK GHG emissions: Incentives
for power generation from renewable sources and non GHG emitting
sources such as nuclear and tidal barrage.
2. Incentives for the reduction of energy
use in industry, commerce and domestically through demand reductions,
energy conservation and improved energy efficiency.
3. Infrastructure improvements to reduce GHG
in transport by a more rational use of public or shared transport,
improved traffic handling and changes in primary fuel.
4. Adoption of a national strategy for energy,
which includes multiple energy sources to ensure security of energy
supply as its priority.
7.2 We also suggest that the UK should use its chairmanship
of the G8 and European Presidency to ensure that debate on climate
change is turned into actions. Incentives and motivation will
be needed to influence other countries and the debate must not
degenerate into international disputes about economic growth.
There is no right to deny growth to other nations, but as inheritors
of a common planet we must share together in the creation of an
infrastructure of common ownership.
7.3 We urge the Government, and other non Governmental
agencies to emphasise the impacts of climate change upon our everyday
life and thereby draw the attention of other world leaders to
the probable impacts upon the developing world.
7.4 We recommend that the UK continues to build its centres
of excellence and its world class research into climate change.
7.5 We also urge the appointment of an independent Chief
Engineering Adviser to ensure a co-ordinated, long-term, sustainable
approach to infrastructure planning, which encompasses power supplies,
energy use and its interactions with the environment, rather than
decision-making being dominated by shorter-term political pressures.
The Institution believes that the position should be similar in
remit to the Government's Chief Medical Officer or Chief Scientific
4 October 2004
National Grid Transco, Seven Year Statement 2004. Back
Cabinet Office, Performance and Innovation Unit, Energy Review,
February 2002. Back
European Commission http://europa.eu.int/comm/index-en.htm, tel:
+32 2 299 1111 and 12 January press release http://europa.eu.int/rapid/start/cgi/guesten.ksh?p-action.gettxt=gt&doc=IP/04/33|0|RAPID&lg=EN&display=. Back
Many domestic devices are designed to be "on" or "standby"
continuously, which adds to the demand for both energy and capacity.
Standby domestic power consumption is about 10% of the total.
Source IEA 2001. Back
Accession countries and candidate countries. Back
Note that many family houses and flats are built without sufficient
space to store 2 or more bicycles, placing more limitations on
the adoption of alternative transport methods. Off road charging
of electric vehicles is also very difficult. Back