About Energy, Environment and Sustainability Group
Who we are
Our mission is inseparable from the IMechE mission “to improve the world through engineering”.
We enable engineers to deliver engineering solutions to support the changes required for the transition from unsustainable practices to an ultimate position of long term sustainability.
EESG provides a natural home for learning about the engineer's role in achieving a sustainable future. This enables us to support other key stakeholders, i.e. policy makers, investors, businesses, educators and employers and they naturally see the Institution as a source of expertise, vision, direction and solutions.
EESG has two over-arching objectives:
1. Interim objective: to move towards a sustainable society
EESG recognises that in order to manage a smooth transition to a sustainable long term future, certain existing unsustainable activities will need to remain in place in the short term. Examples of this could include:
- A mismatch between energy demand and energy supply might require the interim use of energy sources that are not sustainable in the long term
- Extraction of resources continues whilst a fully circular economy is developed
- Not all waste can be reused and recycled in the short-term.
EESG acknowledges the need to use certain unsustainable activities in the short-term providing there is a long-term strategy to move towards a position of sustainability.
2. Ultimate objective: Four Principles of Sustainability
Based on the four principles of sustainability derived from “The Natural Step” (Karl-Henrik Robèrt, 1989)
To become a sustainable society we must:
- Halt the progressive build-up of substances extracted from the Earth's crust into the environment, e.g. heavy metals and CO2 from fossil fuels. In using metals or mining, we need to control the rate of extraction and the management of such materials once extracted within foreseeable constraints.
- Halt the progressive build-up in natural systems of chemicals and compounds produced by society, e.g. dioxins, PCBs, and DDT and plastics These have negative effects on ecosystems and can be taken up by living organisms concentrating them in the food chain.
- Eliminate our contribution to the progressive physical degradation and destruction of nature and natural processes, e.g. over-harvesting, building on critical habitat and mismanagement of resources. Physical degradation of the natural environment by depletion of eco-systems and increasing monocultures ultimately impacts those resources we need and Nature's ability to deal with our waste.
- Eliminate our contribution to conditions that undermine people’s capacity to meet their basic human needs, so enabling them to achieve good physical, mental and social health.