This letter was sent by the WES Climate Emergency Group to The Rt Hon Michael Gove MP, The Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP, The Rt Hon Mark Harper MP, The Rt Hon Thérèse Coffey MP, The Rt Hon Gillian Keegan MP and all Shadow Ministers on 20th May 2023.
You can support this letter by adding your signature to Petition · Ask the UK Government to embed Climate Change into policies · Change.org.
The Women’s Engineering Society Climate Emergency Group ask the UK Government to act with urgency
The Women’s Engineering Society Climate Emergency Group represents a diverse group of professionals in multiple engineering and science sectors in the UK who are actively addressing the emergencies related to climate change. We are asking the UK Government to accelerate work to ensure a future for all citizens.
We ask the relevant Government Departments and Secretaries of State to support industry effectively and decisively by:
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change AR6 Synthesis Report has confirmed that we are on a trajectory of hitting a 2.7 degrees Celsius global temperature rise if current policies remain unchanged due to poor implementation and insufficient climate plans. We request a clear and consistent strategic approach which will embed Climate Change Committee recommendations into every new and updated policy document.
Engineers and scientists are critical to fighting the climate emergency: we are the pioneers of innovation hence the front line of climate action. Mr Sunak outlined the importance of innovation for achieving Net Zero yet engineers do not have supporting policies to drive change. The current voluntary bottom-up approach needs strong legislative support to facilitate green design and the transition to net zero. We provide below a few examples where political will would enable the engineering sectors to deliver tangible outputs.
Regulate whole life carbon
The construction and buildings sector contributes 25% of total UK carbon emissions. At COP26 the Government committed to achieving 68% reductions in carbon emissions by 2030. However, there is little government guidance as to how these targets are to be met by the built environment industry. The embodied carbon of buildings, and more generally construction, is not currently required to be assessed or controlled. Project delivery does not consistently consider the full asset life and the carbon associated with the long-term operation and maintenance of buildings and infrastructure. This is leading to excessive and unnecessary material use which have significant impacts on global warming potential, human health, natural resource depletion and biodiversity loss.
We ask the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities to urgently introduce the proposed Part Z Building Regulations to enable mandatory assessment of whole-life carbon and to establish embodied carbon limits of buildings. We believe this is integral to achieving the ambitious but vital government targets.
We ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero to mandate the alignment to and certification of all public and private sector authorities to PAS 2080: Carbon management in buildings and infrastructure 2023. This practical specification and supporting guidance will support policy and assist in removing the status to optionally account for carbon within asset and project delivery.
Ensure infrastructure standards are fit for the future
The catastrophic effects of climate change have been tangible to towns and cities across the UK. In July 2022, the temperature reached a UK high of 40.3°C causing rail disruption due to buckling tracks, and only months later, there were severe floods causing further widespread disruption across the UK.
As engineering professionals, we are aware a consistent risk-based approach which puts in place mitigation and resilience measures, informed by climate science, is needed.
We ask the Secretary of State for Transport and the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to invest in full updates of all infrastructure standards based on weather predictions in line with a minimum 3°C warming to ensure future infrastructure projects are climate resilient.
Support energy efficiency in homes and non-residential buildings
Around 18% of our annual national CO2 emissions come from existing homes which will still be standing in 2050. 80% of 2050’s homes have already been built. UK homes are causing our citizens undue financial stresses alongside significantly contributing to climate change. To reduce carbon emissions in the energy sector, the government must urgently address energy efficiency in homes and non-residential buildings.
Planning restriction policies and the cost of implementation is preventing real change. This is coupled with the lack of retrofit installers able to deliver the plan at scale, and an absence of a commensurate plan of how to achieve EPC “C” rating by 2035 for existing homes.
We ask the Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero to urgently address the policy gap in owner occupied homes and non-residential buildings and set a clear timeline of activities that align with the net zero targets.
Facilitate the success of future green jobs
To achieve 480,000 skilled well-paid green jobs by 2030 and facilitate new and expanding industries we need a significant expansion in the existing workforce. To create a just transition we can and should increase efforts to diversify: attract young girls, retain women, and address the needs of local communities who are currently dependent on the industries which are major contributors to the climate emergency.
We ask the Secretary of State for Education to embed the recommendations from The Gender Pay Gap Report and the FTSE Women Leaders Review into the highly anticipated outputs from the Green Jobs Delivery Group.
To summarise, we ask that the UK Government and all policy makers to act with urgency and put in place legislation to enable the engineering industry to build upon the work of scientific climate organisations to ensure a safe and just space for humanity.
Signatories on letter to MPs on 20 June 2023:
Engineer a more diverse future and empower your female engineers with the insights, expertise, and drive to thrive.