Dr Jenifer Baxter, Head of Engineering at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, comments on the IPCC Climate Change Report

This report aims to create urgency in our response to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. We have technological knowledge to dramatically reduce emissions, we now require the leadership to make tough decisions on regulations for energy efficiency and emissions that may not be politically popular.

The IPCC’s target to generate 70-80% electricity from renewables is ambitious, but we have to look at the broader picture and focus on reducing the carbon intensity of the whole electricity system. Currently renewables are backed up by gas when they are not generating and in the UK, gas is backed up by coal.

Carbon capture and storage may help to some extent, but this infrastructure runs the risk of locking us into a fossil fuel-based system.

 We are not yet in the position to create enough long-term storage from environmentally friendly sources to fill the supply gap when renewables are not generating. We have very limited options for more hydro power in the UK, batteries do not yet provide the type of storage needed and other options like liquid air and hydrogen storage are still early in their development stages.

Another option to reduce the carbon intensity of the electricity system is to take a more certain approach to nuclear power by planning a long-term rolling programme of development that grows the supply chain and required skills, as well as reducing the overall costs of building new power stations.

Going beyond the electricity system, we should explore the relationship between nuclear and producing hydrogen through electrolysis to provide decarbonised fuel for heat, transport and industry.”