Industry leaders call for UK to lead on energy transition after Trump pull out
2 Jun 2017
Industry bodies reacted with dismay to US president Donald Trump’s intention to withdraw his country from the Paris Agreement on climate change, but say the UK and others can benefit from promoting new technologies.
Organisations including the CBI, Institution of Chemical Engineers (IChemE) and the European Chemical Industry Council (Cefic) all called on the other signatories to reaffirm their commitment to limit global average temperature increases.
Chair of IChemE’s Energy Centre, Professor Stefaan Simons, said the setback offered a significant opportunity for countries including the UK.
“[There is] an opportunity for those countries who remain committed to become leaders in the fields that will be integral to the energy mix in the future. By intensifying research and development efforts and championing technologies such as nuclear energy, carbon capture and storage, energy and resource efficiency and bioenergy, they will be well placed to reap the benefits once the transition occurs,” he stated.
“The expertise of chemical engineers will play a vital role in these efforts, and IChemE Energy Centre looks forward to supporting them to do so. If the other 146 signatories who have ratified the Agreement hold firm, ultimately it will be the US that lose out.”
His stance was echoed by Cefic which warned that global competitiveness would best be achieved by the USA remaining in the agreement.
The UK needs a level playing field for carbon costs, so that our energy intensive industries can compete effectively
Michelle Hubert, head of energy and infrastructure, CBI
In a public statement, Cefic added: “We believe the EU chemical industry is a pillar for tomorrow’s low carbon economy. Chemical innovations enable current and future climate change solutions, including renewable energy, energy storage and thousands of products to improve energy efficiency, such as in vehicles and buildings.”
Nearly 150 nations had ratified the Paris Agreement which came into force in November last year – less than a week before Trump was elected US president. The signing followed the COP21 climate talks of the preceding year, at which nearly 200 nations agreed to limit average global warming to below two degrees.
In the UK, the country’s leading business organisation, the CBI reaffirmed its belief in a sustainable low-carbon strategy.
The CBI’s head of energy and infrastructure, Michelle Hubert said: “It’s disappointing that President Trump has signalled his intention to withdraw the United States from the Agreement, but now is the time for governments to affirm their commitment to it by turning global ambition into national reality.
“By investing and innovating, British businesses will be at the heart of delivering a low-carbon economy, and will want to see domestic policies that demonstrate commitment to this goal.
“As other nations start to play a greater role and increase their ambition, the UK needs a level playing field for carbon costs, so that our energy intensive industries can compete effectively in a global, low-carbon marketplace.”