Chemical engineers discuss Singapore climate change targets at World Engineering Summit

The Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) Energy Centre held a workshop at the World Engineering Summit in Singapore yesterday, led by the IChemE Energy Centre. It focused on energy issues in South East Asia, and how chemical engineers can implement current and future innovations to help mitigate climate change.

Professor Richard Darton, Department of Engineering Sciences at University of Oxford, gave an introduction to the IChemE Energy Centre, focusing on its key mission of highlighting the important role chemical engineers play in making energy more sustainable. He said the discipline was essential to delivering a low carbon future, and urged industry to look at the whole supply chain when considering environmental impact.

Antonio Della Pelle, a Board Member of the Energy Centre, looked at the growing population in the region, as well as the diversity of the landscape and how this presented different challenges. He concluded that in order to meet the 2 degree target set by the Paris Agreement, immediate deployment of renewable energy and CCS was required in the short term.

Under the Paris Agreement, Singapore has pledged that by 2040 it will reduce emissions by 36% from 2005 levels. The strategy to achieve this target was presented by Lead Technologist of Singapore’s Climate Change Secretariat, Ho Hiang Kwee. Singapore is one of the lowest global emitters of CO2, but fossil fuels account for the majority – particularly in power, transport and industry. Kwee confirmed that Singapore would introduce a carbon tax in 2019, to encourage the use of low carbon fuels.

By 2040 the energy demand in South East Asia will have increased by 80%, with a larger population and economy. Global ARF’s David Hooper pointed out this would also impact on the volume of solid waste generated in Singapore. Currently 14% of waste is recycled, but Hooper argued that waste-to-energy plants can process up to 200 tonnes of waste a day, and produce up to 60 MW to generate electricity.

The discussion concluded with an audience Q&A with the expert panel. It revealed strong support for the carbon tax, and opened up debate for a circular economy in Singapore. A number of audience members stressed the need for Singapore to become less reliable on imports, and for more sustainable product lifecycles.

The workshop was chaired by IChemE Singapore Board Chair, Joe Eades. He said:

“Decision-makers, governments and political figures must ensure we can deliver a low carbon future for the future generations. For a long time, economists have been listened to on issues of meeting energy targets – today the IChemE Energy Centre has shown that chemical engineers can provide the technical solutions and evidence-based recommendations for policy.

“We cannot consider things in isolation and must take a look at the bigger picture – the supply chain, the process and the product end-of-life. We must consider the impact of waste on people and the environment, and encourage policy-makers to take a broad, long-term view.”

The World Engineers Summit is held 18-21 July 2017 at Suntec in Singapore. The conference is held biennially to champion engineering-led discussions on sustainable development. The IChemE Energy workshop was held on Wednesday 19 July.

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