Help AIChE Craft Its Climate Policy

As evidenced by the many recent threads on Engage, climate change and climate policy are top-of-mind for many AIChE members. Like other professional societies, AIChE is finding increased member interest in public policy and advocacy. With this in mind, AIChE’s Public Affairs and Information Committee (PAIC) Climate Change Task Force, specifically its Climate Change Policy Review Project Team (PRP Team), is spearheading a broad effort to review and revise the Institute’s existing climate policy through communication with, and input from, members and the standard Board review and approval process. The PAIC PRP Team welcomes AIChE members to our discussion with this “Welcome Blog."

Communication and Participation

The policy development process will take place throughout 2017 and will include:

  • A series of blog post on authored by members of PAIC’s Climate Change Task Force and others.
  • A series of discussions on AIChE Engage related to the aforementioned blog posts
  • CEP articles written by PAIC representatives

PAIC Process and Substantive Scope

Examine Contribution of Anthropogenic Climate Change

a. Vet the Science Underlying US Regulation of Anthropogenic Climate Change: The first step in PAIC’s review and revision process will be to vet the body of science regarding data validity and attribution at issue in the regulation of anthropogenic emission sources of greenhouse gases (GHGs) to mitigate climate change.  See Topics 1-4 below.

b. Review the Uncertainties Regarding Models Projecting Climate Change Impacts: The second step is to review and summarize the scope of uncertainties in future projections and implications regarding overall risk.  See Topics 5 and 6 below.

Examine Mitigation Approaches

The third step is to review and summarize climate change mitigation methods and implementation considerations, ranging from GHG regulation to utilization of non-fossil-carbon-based fuels, including renewables and nuclear; GHG emission control, including carbon capture and sequestration; and carbon emission avoidance methods, including decarbonization, energy efficiency, and bulk energy storage.  See Topic 7 below.

Examine Adaptation and Resilience

Finally, PAIC will invite discussion regarding climate-change adaptation and resilience methods and implementation considerations regarding response to rising sea levels, storm surges and other flooding, increased storm events, drought, and water-source limitations, including subsidence, intense heat, and resulting drain on power grids. The response should focus on protecting manufacturing facilities and community infrastructure to ensure resilient production, social resilience, chemical process safety, employee safety and regulatory compliance.  See Topic 8 below.

Revisit AIChE Climate Change Policy

Following the development of AIChE member discussion in Engage and publication of the CEP articles, PAIC will draft a revised AIChE Climate Change Policy for review by the Board. With this body of AIChE member input, PAIC believes it has the best chance of proposing an updated AIChE Climate Change Policy that balances member concerns while promoting chemical engineers’ contributions to addressing these topics.

Organizational Approach

For PAIC’s organizational purposes, topical categories below are currently planned for discussion sequentially as shown, with each topic announced upon opening for discussion with an opening ChEnected blog post:

  1. General Approaches and Project Principles; appropriate level of scientific certainty; status of popular opinion on climate change; international context of IPCC and the Paris Accord; (Wednesday, August 9, 2017)
  2. Validity of Observed/Measured Data I:  temperatures, ice coverage, sea level rise, weather patterns, species;
  3. Validity of Observed/Measured Data II:  greenhouse gas concentrations;
  4. Attribution of Observed Climate Change: causes of warming and increased greenhouse gas concentrations;
  5. Validity of Future Projections I:  temperatures, ice coverage, sea level rise, weather patterns, species;
  6. Validity of Future Projections II:  greenhouse gas concentrations;
  7. Climate Change Mitigation Approaches and Implementation;
  8. Adaptation and Resilience Approaches and Implementation.

To assist in preparing to participate in this discussion, participants might turn for reference to the science supporting current U.S. law, specifically the factual issues (body of science and decision-making) considered by EPA in adopting its GHG Endangerment Findings and supporting its decision to deny reconsideration of the Findings, in Resources and Tools, as well as the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals 2012 decision upholding the Endangerment Finding in Coalition for Responsible Regulation v. EPA (D.C. Cir. Index No. 09-1322), at Arnold & Porter’s Climate Case Chart.

After publishing ChEnected blog posts on each of these topics, followed by moderated Engage discussion, the full scope of points articulated regarding each issue will be summarized and used as the basis for an article in CEP.

Join The Conversation – and Remember the Code of Conduct

PAIC invites you to join the discussions on Engage over the next several months. Note that there will be separately moderated discussions based on the above-mentioned technical topics. The goal is to stay on the topic at hand. The discussions are not meant to be political in nature. Member posts to the Climate Statement discussion threads must conform to AIChE Engage’s Code of Conduct; this is required of all posts to Discussion Central. Posts to the Climate Statement discussion threads must also meet these additional requirements:

  • Posts must pertain to the specific Climate Policy topic currently under discussion
  • Factual posts must be evidence-based and provide links to evidence, e.g., links to data, links to analysis of data, or citations of peer-reviewed literature whose authors conduct research in the topic under discussion as their profession 
  • Factual posts must introduce any link they provide
  • A factual post must not be a repeat of a previous factual post
  • Posts that are declined can be edited to correct deficiencies and resubmitted
  • Most valuable will be posts updating previously accepted scientific positions and/or that legitimately rebut with new science an EPA conclusion supporting previous rulemaking
  • Each topic will be discussed for two weeks and when it is closed, the next topic will be introduced

Posts that do not meet these requirements will be moderated and will not appear in the Climate Statement thread. If a member’s post is moderated, the member will be given the opportunity to edit the post so that it meets the requirements for the Climate Statement threads and resubmit it. If a post is moderated, AIChE staff will provide a specific explanation of the reason it was moderated.

Climate Policy topics will be open for a two-week period.  Once a topic is closed, posts to that topic will not be accepted and a new topic will be introduced.

Threads will be monitored closely and any posts that stray off the topic at hand or make factual statements without providing data from reputable sources will be flagged for moderation. Posters will have an opportunity to re-post with appropriate modifications of the original post.

Looking forward to AIChE member participation!